at the fair

since i haven't been to a fair in a very long time, i jumped at the chance to go with some family this last saturday morning. it was the last day, so of course it was packed.

this is my cousin's son, jakob. he'll be 2 this halloween :) i don't think he enjoyed that corn dog very much...

we went to see some of the animals, which i think were about ready for the fair to be over with.

this is an unedited photo i took of the carousel. i don't know if i accidentally pushed some weird setting on my camera, or if it's just blown out because of the sun... either way, i thought it looked interesting. i played with the levels in photoshop (below). 

i love carousels. especially the really old ones. i've been particularly fond of them ever since reading something wicked this way comes by ray bradbury when i was much younger. 

i promise i did get some stuff done this weekend, but won't be posting pics until later. right now i'm ready for a nap, but still have things that need to be accomplished before I can call it a day. 


today i am

today i am 23 years old. sometimes i feel like i'm much older than that, though. but i guess i've done quite a bit so far in this short time. i graduated college, i married my best friend (and wonderful man), i've had some awesome (and not so awesome) jobs... and i currently have a great job that i love! i've met some wonderful friends that have always been supportive and encouraging to me. and i've been creating these books for over a year now, and have been selling them for over 6 months! business is growing everyday it seems like. i'll soon be introducing some new notecards and magnet sets. where does the time go exactly?

above is a book that i made for someone else who recently had a birthday. parkridge pregnancy center had their 15 year anniversary this month, and i was able to donate a sign-in book for the banquet they hold every year. i was also fortunate enough to work on their invitation, ministry report, program and other pieces for this year's banquet (through hartsfield design, where i work as a graphic designer). their banquet was last night, september 23rd. jim daly, from focus on the family, was their guest speaker... if you ever have a chance to hear him speak, i suggest you do so. he has a wonderful story to tell and a wonderful sense of humor as well. doug and i had such a great time at the banquet last night, and i'm glad that i get to be a part of something that helps so many people. 


the maze that is etsy

If you’ve never purchased anything off of Etsy before, I suggest you browse around and buy a few things, just so you know how the process works. It can be confusing the first time around, so knowing the ropes before you have customers buying from you can be helpful. You have to sign-up for an account, even if you just want to buy one thing. There is much controversy about this requirement since it turns quite a few potential buyers away from the site. Many don’t want to take the time to create an account before purchasing, even though this is a requirement on many online stores. Personally, how could you not want to create an account to purchase something, knowing there are so many wonderful things for you and to give as gifts.

You also have to sign-up to be a seller (yes, there’s another step before you can start selling). I strongly suggest that you read the Terms of Use in full, as well as the other helpful guides that Etsy currently offers in their help section. Basically, you can only sell goods that have been HANDMADE by YOU. This means… something you’ve ‘embellished’, up-cycled, deconstructed and made into something else, or something that’s been entirely created by you. The only other exceptions are Vintage and Supplies. You can sell vintage items as long as they are 20 years old or older. You can also sell items that you have not made by hand by deeming them supplies. Many times these are things like beads, buttons, yarn, etc. Just make sure that when you list an item… you put it under the correct category and tag the item correctly. Not following this rule can get your store flagged and even closed in some cases.

Okay, so now that you’re a registered seller, time to set up shop. Be sure to fill out your profile, shop announcement, and store policies; upload your banner and avatar and start creating listings. Below are all things you should know about as you open your store to the public.


You can put as much or as little info here as you want. I personally like to read a seller’s profile while I’m looking at their store and see what kind of a personality they have. Also, this is a great place to post links to your blog and business email address, as well as promote other etsy sellers (usually friends/family)

Store Policies

Every store gets to have their own policies on shipping, returns, custom orders, etc… as long as they don’t conflict with Etsy’s policies. Think about what you want to offer before you write anything in this section. And please don’t leave this section blank. It is useful to buyers to see how you stand on certain issues before they purchase something. Things like… how you ship your items, whether you are willing to gift-wrap and send directly to the gift’s recipient, what happens if their package gets lost in the mail or if someone wants to return an item. Look at some of the larger shops on etsy and see what their store policies are. Don’t copy them word for word, but there’s no harm in having similar views/rules about things.

Shop Announcement

This is a great place to announce your upcoming vacation, any sales or promotions, and another place to post a link to your blog or your website.

Item Description

As you write your item description, remember that no one can feel, smell, taste, (hear?) what you're trying to sell. It's hard to sell something when your customer can't physically hold it in their hand. That's why you must be descriptive in your listing. Exact measurements, colors, textures, weight, attributes, etc must be addressed in this section if you want to sell this thing you have made with your own two hands. It also doesn't hurt to be humorous or give other uses/ideas for this item, just don't get too carried away. (ps... I would suggest writing your descriptions in word and copy/paste-ing them... makes life easier)


This feature allows buyers to contact you with a request for a custom item. You can turn this feature on and off from your control panel in your store. (in case you're too swamped to take custom orders) They list what they want, time it needs to be completed in, price, etc and it comes to you for approval. You can change any of the terms and send it back to the buyer for their approval. Once everything has been agreed upon and accepted, you create the custom item, upload photos, invoice the customer through paypal (or however you want to get payment), and gets listed in your sold items. Others can also click on your Alchemy page to see what other custom items you have created for others.

There is also an Alchemy button on the top header. This is where buyers list what custom item they want made, and you as a seller can submit a bid to make the said item. The buyer than accepts or rejects your bid, and the process is the same as above.


It is important to leave feedback. It helps others to know how you conduct business. Did you pay on time? Were you easy to work with? Was the item you received as described in their store? Anything can be addressed in your feedback, and I think it’s important for both parties to leave appropriate feedback after a transaction has been completed.


When you list a new item, you have the option to add up to 14 tags onto your listing. These are keywords to help your buyer find what their looking for. Be sure that either handmade, vintage or supply is the first tag (and that it’s the appropriate one!). Use up all of your tags by describing the colors, materials used, style, etc. Don’t mis-tag an item just to get it in a different category though. Buyers will just be annoyed that it's in the wrong place. Also, think about how you would search for this particular item if you were looking for something like similar. That will help you in the tagging process.


Etsy has a great feature when you list an item that allows you to create and choose a shipping profile. It allows you to set up shipping prices for as many places as you would like. I suggest making a shipping profile for each different type of item you sell, so that when you need to list a new, similar item… you don’t have to add in all the info all over again. 

These are the features that I think are most important when you are setting up your shop. There are many, many others that I will talk about in the future... but these should be your main concern right now. You can check out the others as you're waiting patiently for your first sale :) If you have any questions on anything mentioned above, please feel free to contact me. I am a fairly nice person after 9 am, I don't bite, and I will try to answer any questions you might have. 


september goals

i figured while i babbled away about my goals for september, i should at least give you something interesting to look at. this is a book i just completed. rachel is having a photobooth at her wedding and wanted a tall book to fit the photostrips in. she designed the front panel (which matches her invites) and agreed to let me try out another cut out panel on her book. thanks for trusting me rachel!

okay... so now my goals for september...
    1:: reach 90 sales 
    2:: add new notecards 
    3:: add some magnet sets
    4:: better organize my office space
    5:: revamp my profile, policies and item descriptions
    6:: be in bed before 11 pm every night (that sounds like a business goal, right?)
    7:: reach 175 hearts

i am also dedicating time to writing etsy advice, and will start featuring past customers who have put their guestbook to good use. anything else you think i should be working on? let me know and we'll see if it will fit into my schedule :)


i promise

that this won't be my only post this week... but in the mean time, you can look at these fabulous books that were just finished today.

for those inquiring minds, yes katie, it is flocked paper. and i love it. ooohhh can you say wallpaper?


would you like to see what i've done this week?

so, when you see me and wonder why i look sleep deprived, you'll know without having to ask :) the sad thing is... this isn't even all of them that have been completed this week. 

i am really starting to like this cut-out panel. although it doesn't have all the fancy ribbon and stuff, it's a very simple and elegant way to display the design. i'll be doing a few more of these cutout panels in the weeks to come. i also wanted to say thanks to cece for trusting me on this one!

oh, and i've decided that i'm going to start a weekly posting (on fridays as long as i get enough sleep that week) called Etsy Advice (super creative, huh?). during this time i will share my knowledge and resources that i've learned so far selling on etsy. got any questions you want answered? send me a line and i'll answer it to the best of my abilities.

i also want to start featuring some of my couples that have purchased guestbooks from me and have had their wedding (and used their book!). if you fit this description and would like to be featured, just let me know!


some new books

here are a few books that i've been lazy in posting. i really am trying here to post more! i made christina's book with this awesome red krinkle paper from paperstudio. it has a really nice texture (almost like leather) and variation in color.

dominique wanted something a little different. her book is post-bound. this option doesn't open flat like the spiral books, but can be easily taken apart to add or remove pages.

sarah had picked out some unusual wrapping paper for her cover, but i think it works well. i threw in some metallic blue for the front panel and used the flocked red as a border.

i usually don't post on the weekend, but doug's starting a new shift at the hospital (7am-3pm!), so i had some time on my hands to post... not that i don't have any books to work on or anything... i hope you enjoyed my first post on selling on etsy. i would like to make it a weekly thing (like etsy fridays?) because i still have tons of information and resources to share with you. and if you have a second... jump over to my friend (and fabulous designer) katie's blog to check out this awesome video she found about the handmade nation. 

have a good weekend!


selling on etsy (part 1 of many)

Thanks to all of you who have been reading my blog and watching my business grow these last (almost 6!) few months. I really appreciate all the support that I’ve received, and in turn, would like to share some of my etsy wisdom with the rest of the world.

I know that a few of my friends have contemplated opening up shop, and I thought I would write this little guide for those of you who might be a little nervous about taking the next step. Since this is going to be pretty lengthy, it will be broken up into several different posts/sections.


So, you want to start selling on Etsy? There are a few things you should think about before you jump into anything. If you already have a username/account, you may want to consider using it to open up shop. You already have some positive feedback, right? But on the other hand… you really don’t want your shop name to be kutekat666 if you’re going to be selling handmade baby clothing… The identity of your Etsy shop is very important. You want your name to be recognizable, easy to spell and easy to remember. There are hundreds of thousand of shops currently on etsy, so finding a cool name that hasn’t already been taken might be difficult. I know that this step in the process can seem rather time consuming, but this is your identity. Take some time to pick something out that you can live with for awhile… preferably forever.


Think you’ve found the perfect name for your store? Do a search on Etsy to see if anyone else came up with the same brilliant name. If that name isn’t already taken, do a few more searches for it on google or yahoo. You would be surprised at how many other people might be using that combination of words. If you are satisfied with the results, go ahead and register that name on etsy. You might even consider purchasing the domain name as well (if it’s not already taken). You can always re-route the address to your etsy shop and it would be helpful to own the domain name in case you did want to build a website later on. A blog is also another web identity to consider. I didn’t have a blog when I first opened my shop, but soon realized that it would be a useful tool to share my thoughts and ideas, as well as be a promotional tool for paperlust. There are several options to choose from. I am obviously on blogger, but others use wordpress, typepad…



This would also be a good time to think about what you’re going to sell. I’m sure you already have some ideas, otherwise you wouldn’t consider opening a shop. What I mean is that if you’re going to make personalized baby bibs, you might as well offer personalized baby blankets, hats, clothes, shoes, diaper bags… you get the idea. People who shop for one type of item (for others or themselves) will probably buy more than one item from you if you have similar products to choose from. Variety is also important. People like to have a variety of options to choose from. You might think “but I don’t like making decisions…” but you would be wrong. We like feeling that we are decisive and in control. If you only give someone one option, more than likely they will go somewhere else to shop. That being said… when you decide what you’re going to make for your shop, make a list of items that supplement your original idea. This will help you fill up your store, which will keep people looking for longer.



I guess now would also be a good time to mention copyright and copying other’s work. While there is much debate on these issues, not just in the world of Etsy, but the world in general, you have to be careful what you do. While you may think that you’ve come up with the ‘next big thing’, more than likely someone else has already had a similar idea. And while there is no problem with you adding a little competition to the game, do so with respect. Make sure that you are not outright or purposefully copying someone else’s idea. If you knit leg warmers, find a way to do it so that yours stands out from the rest. Embellish them with wool flowers or make them out of some crazy material. What I’m saying is… find a way to make your items unique and memorable. You don’t want a buyer looking at your goods and thinking, ‘I’ve seen these in so-and-so’s shop, they must have copied them’. Find a way to make your product better and/or different, and you will get noticed. Trust me.



Not literally. Now that you have a name, you should put a face to that name. If you don’t feel comfortable designing a logo, there are plenty of folks who would love to do it for you! (me, for example). There are tons of graphic designers on etsy offering their services for logo and business card design. Or you could find somebody local or hire a friend to do it for you. But wait, there’s more! Since you’re going to be online, there is also your banner and avatar to worry about! Don’t worry, these things aren’t quite as daunting as they seem, and the same person who designed your logo would probably be more than happy to throw in some web extras. Etsy does have some pre-made banners and such that you just type in your shop name, and they do the rest for you. There’s not much to choose from though, and in the end you’ll probably want to make something unique for your store. I will go into more detail on designing your own avatar/banner in the photography section.



I will go over this in the shipping section as well… but now is also a good time to figure out how you’re going to package all those cute little baby booties you are going to sell. Now that you have a logo… figure out how you are going to present them to your buyer. Just remember that you have to put them in the mail. Remember this when you want to put them in a cute little box with a big bow on the top. In my opinion, the simpler it is, the better it is. You don’t have to buy a bunch of clear boxes or fancy labels to package your items in. A brown paper bag with your logo stamped on top, tied with a thin ribbon would be nice… or you could make your own envelopes out of scrap paper. Also think about how it’s going to hold up to as it’s being ‘gently handled’ by the post office. And remember to include a nice hand-written note and a business card before you slip everything into the bubble mailer and seal it.



Go ahead and start making some items before you officially open your store. You want to have more than a few products to list when you open… it will look professional and keep people looking around for a little while. Don’t over-do it though. Depending on what you’re making, you should be able to get away with putting together a few things (in a variety of colors/sizes) to photograph.


I hope this has helped you think more about what you need to do before you open your Etsy shop. Next week I will go over how selling on Etsy works. In the future I’ll also go over shipping, photography, advertising, time management and hopefully set up a list of helpful resources.


diy notecards

since i have nothing better to do on a wednesday night while listening to my oh-so-wonderfully greasy battered okra fries away i thought i would share a little diy project with you. now this is nothing special... just something i thought would be cool to make with all my leftover cardstock. the size i'm using is 3.5x11, folded to 3.5x5.5. this isn't a favorite size, but rather scrap paper left over from previous books. i think it makes a nice sized card though, to write all your thank-you's on

i used my paperlust logo stamp that i ordered from JLMould since i will be sending these along with some books that i recently finished. you could use a decorative stamp from a craft store or something you carved yourself... or you could print a design from your computer (except that these leftover sheets wouldn't run through :(

i just made a few, since i do still have other projects to finish tonight, six seemed like a good number to finish on. i'll probably make more this weekend to keep on stock. now, you could leave these as-is or embellish them a little more for added drama. i am going to experiment on a few to see what looks good.

this, ladies and gentlemen is my nifty little hole-punching device. you can adjust where the holes are, and punch multiple (i'm talking 50 sheets of paper) at once. it's wonderful!

here's some of the 'finished' cards. i left the ivory ones plain, but scalloped the edges on the white cards and added ribbon to the kraft ones. i'd like to go back and try some things with grommets, just not tonight... 

well there you go, folks. now you have no excuse to throw-away that extra paper just lying around your house! make some inexpensive cards for any occasion and save some $$$ (and a trip to the store).


mmm, new paper and an announcement!

this has nothing to do with what i am announcing, but i just had to post it anyway. my friend and owner of hodgepodge in lubbock recently got a shipment of paper in from india. she ordered it at the national stationery show (yes, i'm jealous that she went...) and it is gorgeous. this is only one of quite a few designs she got in, but this is my favorite. clean and crisp, i hope i get to use it on a book soon!

so, now back to what i was going to say... quite a few of my friends have talked lately about opening up a shop on etsy. since i've been selling on that venue for almost six months now, i decided that i would share what i've learned thus far. i am currently gathering my thoughts and some online resources, so please be patient! i hope to have the first post about it up this week. yes, i said first. of several. probably four. we'll see how much i can type before my fingers get tired. anyway, just wanted to give you a heads up to be looking for my two cents worth of advice and info to help you get started selling your handmade (or vintage) goods on this great site.

something new...

this is amy's book. i sent it out last week, and i hope she loves it. she actually mailed me the black & white scrapbooking paper that she picked up from joann's fabrics. she also used this paper in some of her other wedding projects and wanted her guestbook to tie in. amy also emailed me her monogram design (i'm not sure who designed it...). i wanted to keep it the same shape and thought it would look strange with the wrap-around that i normally use, so i decided to do a cut-out panel on the front cover instead. thanks amy for trusting me with something new! i couldn't be happier with the way it turned out, and i hope this opens the door for some new and interesting designs for the front covers of future books...