5 Steps to Sharing a Smile: Buying Smile Stationery

“I checked the mail after a hard day at work and it just had me smiling from ear to ear!”

This is why I do what I do.

Seriously, when Jessie posted this review in my Etsy shop it made me smile ear to ear too! I think the process of buying a greeting card should not only make the person you give the card to smile but is should make you feel special as well.

 

 

 

So what exactly can you expect when you make a purchase from AMTaylorART.

 

Where to start? How about I tell you a bit about my work first?

 

Everything I create in my shop starts out as a sketch or a doodle. I might be outside with my sketchbook while my kids play tag, sketching while on the sofa watching reality TV, or enjoying my morning coffee when an idea pops in my head that I have to jot down to come back to later. Only a small portion of my sketches make it to the next stage. I have quite a few in my sketchbook that I hope to make into something more one day but for now they are safely tucked away.

 

 

Once I have decided on a design from a sketch, I draw it out in black ink. I use many different sized pens and markers to get the line thicknesses just right. Sometimes I will add some extra shading and texture.


Then it is ready to be “digitized”. I photograph my work and upload it to some special computer software that smooths some of the edges and allows me to edit my drawings a bit. I try not to mess around too much with the original layout because I want to retain the hand drawn quality for the final product.

 

 

The software I use allows me to add colour to my black and white drawings in layers. This is how I get such consistent colours throughout my product line and am able to make some of my drawings seem like they might pop off the page! Recently I have been experimenting with adding patterns to the layers and I think it is turning out awesome.

 

Okay, so now my design is complete. I format it to fit on a greeting card, notepad, etc. and then the hard work begins of making it available to you on the website, Etsy, and social media. I would say 80% of my time on each product is spent doing this. This step takes the longest and quite frankly, there isn’t too much excitement to share in these processes until you get to see my work on your end.

 

So that brings me to the next thing you can expect. The buying process. There are actually a few different ways you can buy from me.

 

Etsy

As I am sure you know, I have a shop on Etsy. For those of you who aren’t aware of what Etsy is, it is an online marketplace where small businesses can make their works available for the customer to purchase through Etsy’s secure checkout system. I compare Etsy to a shopping mall. You have all kinds of products, and shops under one roof. This is great for the buyer because they get to see what many artisans have to offer and great for the seller because they get the benefit of the “mall traffic”.

 

 

So what can you expect when buying from me on Etsy? Well first, head on over to my shop and browse through all I have in store. I have cards for every occasion and a few special giftable items too. When you find what you are looking for simply add it to your cart and checkout. Etsy just introduced Guest Checkout so you no longer have to create an account to buy. How awesome is that! Etsy is secure and is a great way to buy from me and other artists.

 

There is a slight caveat for my Canadian customers. My Etsy shop is priced in US dollars so you might notice my prices seem to be always changing slightly (a few cents here and there) with the shift of our dollar. That brings me to one of the reasons I created the second opportunity to purchase, my website.

 

AMTaylorART.ca

For people buying in Canadian dollars, my prices are my prices and they will not change day to day. My shop currency is in Canadian dollars but international customers can view it in their currency as well. I am able to accept purchases from any customer worldwide who has a paypal account.

 

Like Etsy, you can trust that my website is secure. If you notice in the address bar, the little lock symbol means I have paid for extra security to keep all your info safe from those who might be trolling the internet looking for it. Unlike Etsy, my website is less “shopping mall” and more “boutique”. You have made a special trip just to see me and my work. Thank you for that!

 

What can you expect from my shop on my website? Feel free to browse my work, ask for custom order, or buy wholesale if you are a store owner all in one convenient place. Once you are ready to make a purchase, add your item to the cart and checkout with our secure checkout system via Paypal. It’s like double security! You get my security plus the security of the Paypal website.

You’ve Checked Out, Now What?

First of all, thank you so much! You’re awesome for supporting small business!

 

An email has been sent to me telling me what you bought. What did you buy? A card? Great! So it’s my turn to have some fun again. I will check to see if I have it all ready to go. Sometimes I do sometimes I don’t but you never have to wait. If I don’t have your card printed, I get to work right away. I print it on my printer in my studio at the highest quality setting on heavy 110 lb cardstock. I love that this paper is 30% recycled content and has such a smooth, white finish. Next I fold the card using my bone fold and a jig my husband made me and cut it to size. I used to cut them by hand with an Exacto blade, then graduated to a paper cutter/scorer that did one at a time, and now am totally in love with my newest toy that allows me to cut not only my cards, but my notepads too!

 

 

Your card is printed and cut. I give it a quick spray with an acrylic sealer. This helps keep the colours bright in case your giftee displays it on the window sill or tucks it in their keepsake box for years to come.

 

I gather up the rest of the supplies to make your order great. Of course your card comes with an envelope, and is packaged in a clear plastic sleeve to keep out any moisture while it takes its journey through the postal system. I also protect your card from bending by making a cardboard sleeve that fits perfectly in the mailing envelope. I also tuck a business card in your package so you don’t forget who made that card that made Mom cry (or laugh, or go gaga over). I address your package to you, stamp it and send it off.

 

Depending on where you are, you can expect it anywhere from a couple of days (if you are local) to a week for Canada and USA customers, and 2-6 weeks for overseas customers. I have shipped my work to the UK, Australia, France, and from coast to coast in Canada and the USA. My work has travelled further than I have! I had better get to work on my Bucket List.

 

Arrival Day!

The moment of truth. You have trusted me to create and send you something that you didn’t get to see in person. You are trusting the images online. You’ve been waiting days. Maybe wondered if the colours were right? Is the quality really what she said it would be? Did the post office damage it? I hope it was all you had hoped for! But here is what some of my other customers have said on arrival day:

 

“The card itself is perfect, and arrived it immaculate condition. I’m gifting this to my father and I know that he will find this just as incredible as I do. It’s a total treasure. Thank you again!” – Jessie

 

“As described. Thank you ! !” – Sarah

 

“I received the card a day earlier than expected! It looks exactly as seen on the screen.” – Karyn

 

“QUALITY CARD AND QUICK, SMOOTH TRANSACTION. RECOMMEND THIS SELLER” – Ronnie

 

“The card was beautifully made and delivered fast. It was also packaged very carefully, as to not arrive with any damage! Will definitely order more cards from here in the future. Thanks!” – Courtney

 

Oh, but don’t forget the last step! This card was a gift for someone. Share your smile with them, some fun and thoughtful words, and send it off to its next home.

 

There you have it. I am so glad I could share some smiles over that last couple of years with people across the globe. Are you ready to smile?

 

 

Want to check out my Etsy shop and browse the “mall”? Visit here.

 

Don’t have time to shop right now? I hear ya! But before you go, sign up to be a VIP and get free shipping when you are ready to shop.

 

It’s Launch Day

It has been an exciting month for me as boss-lady of AMTaylorART! I have defined my goals and focus of my biz, made plans for new products and opportunities for this coming season, and learned to love being productive in the business-y (read stats, finances, plans) part of creative business.

Let me share a bit about what I have learned:

First, I learned to set goals. Real goals. Not just dreams. My goal for the year is to see more of my cards in retail stores. By the end of the year I plan to be in 10 stores. Check out where I am right now. (Hey, if you have a neighbourhood store that would be perfect for my work, shoot me an email with their website!)

Next, I got my day planned and scheduled with some amazing (and free!) software, Trello! It is beyond a calendar, its a total life planner on the computer (and smartphone). I also took this course to help me learn how to implement it in my business.

And last but not least, I learned I have to become more consistent with updating you guys who signed up for my email list (love, ya!) So I promise you I will get better at it and social media as a whole. I do love Instagram though, so follow me there if you want a daily dose.

So here I am, just trying to make a go at creative biz and stationery design. Having fun, learning lots, and sharing some smiles along the way!

Community Over Competition: Not Just a Hashtag Anymore


While driving the 45 minute drive to restock the shelves of a local store with my products, I was listening to a podcast by the amazing ladies of Think Creative Collective. In the podcast they interviewed Natalie Franke of The Rising Tide Society, a community born out of a need for entrepreneurs to break through the walls of loneliness and into world of solidarity. The Rising Tide Society adopted the hashtag #communityovercompetition to help remind creatives that we are all in this together.

In the podcast, under the advice about marketing and business strategy (all of which I went home and took notes about to apply to my own biz) there was a major underlying theme of community. From marketing by giving the people the transparency and honest relationships they crave, to learning from the community and becoming cheerleaders for other entrepreneurs and creatives. These women and their communities are helping to push the world in a new direction. They are paving the way for newcomers to make the leap toward getting what they really want out of life knowing there will be a sea of other people just like them to help hold them up and support them. They are taking away the fear of failure with words such as “fail first” and “we’ve all been there”.

Towards the end of the podcast they posed the question “What Really Matters?” As someone who has a hard time looking at the big picture they encouraged me think about this. At the end of the day what really mattered in my creative life? And is it possible that money is not the only way to measure success? So, I started to think about my own journey, my own successes, and how my own community has grown.

 

Keep Reading Over On NFREADS.

 

Like What You are Hearing? Get updates straight to your inbox (and some pretty awesome freebies) by becoming a VIP.

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As Seen On Zazzle!

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Great news, everyone! I have created a Zazzle store. My artwork is now available on journals, phone cases, mugs, apparel and more.

What is Zazzle?

Zazzle is an online marketplace that connects designers with makers to create one-of-a-kind and custom products. As a designer, I am able to upload my designs and make it available to be printed on a variety of products from home decor to apparel to everyday accessories.

When you, the customer, purchase from my store, the maker of the product gets to work putting my design on their product. Then, they ship out your order and you receive a unique product that was made by a community of artists and makers. Pretty cool, huh?

Why Zazzle?

As a small business owner, I do not have the luxury of having a ton of inventory waiting around to be sold. And, the way the printing process works, I would have to order a high quantity of…lets use mugs as an example…with any one particular design on it. Then, I would have to wait for my 100 or so mugs to sell.

This way I can still see my design on beautiful products and make them available to you, while lowering my overhead.

Here are some examples of my new Zazzle products:


Smart Phone Cases

Pineapple Smartphone Case (available in iPhone and Android)

 


Notebooks/Journals

That’s just a few of the new products I am excited about. If you want to see more, head on over to my Zazzle shop.
Do you have any ideas for designs you would love to see on smartphone cases, mugs and more? Leave a comment below and share your ideas.
instagram-cheat

How Instagram got me Into Blogging

So in my last post I talked about how Instagram inspired me to take part in social media. And it really did. I gained new skills, found my voice, and began sharing things that mattered to me all thanks to pretty little Instagram. But it didn’t do just that. It actually led me here. To blogging with you guys.

Instagram is a lot like blogging. In order to build a beautiful feed, you need to be deliberate about what you post and think about your feed as a whole. Which is not unlike building a website or blog. You need to make sure your website has a cohesive feeling throughout.

The hardest part was taking beautiful photos (and was one of the things that kept me on the social media/blogging sidelines for longer than I wanted to be). Instagram gave me confidence in my photography skills and some connections with people who could give me the resources I needed. As I built my Instagram feed and watched what others were posting I realized it really was like a mini blog. As I started sharing some tid-bits about myself, I realized I had more to say than one was going to read on my Instagram. Thus, the blog was born.

Here are a few tips on how I turn my Instagram posts into Blog posts:

instagram-blogging

1  It all starts with a picture. It doesn’t really matter what the picture is. I chose a picture that will fit into my feed nicely, whether it is a pic from vacation or a new product I am working on.

 

2.  Next, I think about what I have to say about that picture. It might not even be directly connected to the picture. For example I took a picture of a lake on a sunny day with the trees and sky reflecting nicely off it and wrote an Instagram post “reflecting” on how business has been going.

 

3.  After that Instagram post is scheduled on Later I expand on it some more in a Blog post on my website. The picture for my post is already made and ready. So it’s just a matter of writing a bit more info.

 

4.  I go back to the scheduled Instagram post and add a link to my published blog post.

 

5.  Then, once everything is published (on Instagram and my blog) I share it on Facebook and Pinterest.

 

And there you have it. My simple Instagram post becomes a blog post, Pinterest pin, and Facebook post.

It is kind of a backwards method, I know, but it helps me gather my thoughts. I usually find when I start writing a social media post, I want to keep writing — but when I sit in front of the computer screen thinking about what to blog about, I don’t know what to say.  This method helps me, I hope you found it useful.

Do you have any tips and tricks you use to make things run more smoothly in your small business? Leave a comment below and tell us your secret.

instagram-hater

I Fell in Love with Instagram

Ah, Instagram. My new love. The pictures, the people, the worldly destinations. Where have you been all my life? (Okay, I wouldn’t go that far but it’s still fun)

instagram hater

 

Now, I am going to let you in on a little secret, okay?

I hate social media. I resisted it as long as I could. I only created my personal Facebook page because I needed one for my business 2 years ago. I even told people not to friend me because I didn’t want to get into to it. I wanted it to be a business tool and that’s it. I know, you’re all like …wait.. what? How old are you?

It’s true. I felt like I was the only millennial not on social media. My 80 year old grandma had a Facebook page before I did. I was kind of afraid of it. I saw Facebook as nothing but a time-suck, and the last thing I wanted was to be attached to my cell phone all the time (another thing I resisted for a long time).

And then came along pretty little Instagram. With it’s colourful feeds of beautiful artwork and gorgeous places to put on my bucket list. It actually inspired me. It forced me to be deliberate with the photos I take, always making me think how I can fit this into my feed. It taught me to be less afraid of photo-editing and playing with exposure or saturation levels. I began curating my feed, adding images of places I’ve been, things I am working on, and sharing a bit about who I am behind the pencils — a handmade biz learning, Disney-loving, D.I.Y-ing, Mom who just kind of makes it up as she goes.

So, anyway, I have been having lots of fun, trying new things and looking forward to learning more. If you want to follow along, head on over to my Instagram feed and introduce yourself.

 

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Handmade Businesses- An interview

Recently, I was contacted by a fellow Etsy seller and Canadian, Samantha of Birch Jewellery Blog, for an interview. We had connected through a Facebook group and she just happened to be putting together a blog post about what it is like starting a handmade business. She asked if I had any advice for new Etsy sellers/small biz makers and I did- (I had no idea how much I had to say until I got talking about it–well, writing about it).

She shares some of what I had to say as well as advice from 4 other Etsy sellers in her post: Maker Spotlight – Advice on Starting a Handmade Business.

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Sweet Summer Collection

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Ah, summer. Our time with it is short (especially here in Canada) but we can count on it to bring patio parties, weekend beach get-togethers, and BBQs with the neighbours we see so rarely in the winter months.

Let’s celebrate summer and what better way than with a line of hot, colourful, and sweet stationery to take with you on summer roadtrips, get-togethers, and parties.

 

instagram image party time

 

Bright pink was a big inspiration for this line and when it was paired with bright blues, yellows, and oranges, it made for a fun, summer collection. There is nothing more summer (for me at least) then backyard parties where we get to don our coolest threads and join our friends to celebrate just the fact that it’s a beautiful day.

summer collection

 

And how about some lemonade? The summer sun sits in the sky making us crave some fruity drinks and fresh produce beside the pool. These cards are pool party ready so why not send a few to your busy friends inviting them for some poolside drinks.

 

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I love a road-trip. I love to watch the scenery as we drive through plains and mountains. But, sometimes, you need an activity to keep you busy in the car so I created a series of sweet postcards you can colour yourself. I thought it would be kind of fun to write a few memories on the back of where you were when colouring it and add it to your scrapbook when you return home. Not going on a long trip this season? Bring this along while you relax on the beach or sit in the shade of an old oak in the park.

This collection was really fun to create and I hope you will enjoy it too. I wish you all a Sweet Summer.

Want to see more? Click here to go to my Etsy Shop.

It’s Official!

*UPDATE* Great News! AMTaylorART is now fully operational. Canada Post has said they will not halt operations which means I can now confidently ship worldwide (including Canada).

It’s official! My shop is now reopened and is full of great new products, perfect for summer. Head on over to my Etsy shop and check it out!

My Sweet Summer Collection is all about bright colours, hot trends, and the sweetness of summer. Fruity greeting card designs, road trip worthy activity kits, and inspirational quotes fill our virtual shelves this season at AMTaylorART.

We have had an exciting summer so far. With the announcement that Canada Post might strike (my only means of shipping) what was a business-girl to do. Throw a party of course. I hope you were able to snag your freebie. If not don’t worry there will be more to come.

I was also given the opportunity to apply to Etsy’s wholesale marketplace and pounced on the idea, jumping in head first. I would love to have my designs in stores across Canada and the USA. Not only that but I entered my shop into the running to pitch my line to major retailers in New York City. They are picking some up-and-coming designers to come to NYC for a two-day workshop and trade show at the end of the summer. Fingers-crossed! (Are you a store owner interested in learning more? Head over here.)

Don’t forget to connect with me on Instagram and Facebook, too.