Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Letters Home- Muncie, Indiana

     I have been a super slacker when it comes to getting the Letters home posts done. I received this batch of pictures a while ago from Allison Pareis. I claim severe burnout and time constraints as to why it has taken me so long to do this post. All of the photos are by Allison. 

     Hi Mom!
        It has been so great to visit with Allison and Action Stan! Outside of our house there are far fewer people my size and it makes a lot of typical past-times trickier. When Action Stan suggested we toss around the football I was definitely excited to try it!
      Football was a lot of fun though people kept giving Allison weird looks while she was taking our pic. So strange! After we tossed around the ball for a while we took Mini Truman for a walk. Dogs really are the best, no matter what size they are!
     All of a sudden this lazy cat wandered into our path and started stretching. Things got a little tense for a minute and Action Stan was ready to jump in and help if I needed it. Even though I am used to how Abby always pulled I was glad he was there, just in case. 

             Action Stan also gave me some lessons on recording and editing the new for NPR. How cool is that?
       Studio microphones are super cool. If I had any use for one I would get one. But maybe I will see if I can get one my size. 
      I had such a fun time visiting with Action Stan and Allison! They were amazing hosts and included me in the coolest things! I'm going to pop home to see you before I head back out on my adventures. I miss you so much! See you soon!


     Little Elecktra


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

MMM, Coffee

     The other day Jennifer Buxton posted about ko-fi, with the title Please, buy me a coffee. She had some really good points in her post. Jennifer has LOTS of page views, and while she loves blogging, the way she does it it does not make her any money. I get that. I live that life. While more often than not it only takes me about 20 minutes to write a blog (or at least the one time I timed it) there are times when a lot of research and time goes into a post. As anyone that reads my blog often knows, time is something that I don't have a lot of. So I decided to look into ko-fi. And Jennifer asked me to do it, lol. 

      Jennifer got the idea from Cristine Sutcliffe of Last Alliance Studios. The post said that ko-fi allows people to donate small amounts of money (so as an example, the price of a coffee) to the creators. For anyone that doesn't know, Cristine does really amazing work on all sorts of miniatures. I only just recently found her blog and I am very glad that I did. 
      Anyway, I added the button, which is right in the sidebar on desktops and tablets. It doesn't show up on mobile, but apparently if you scroll to the bottom and switch over the web view you can then see the button. I thought about Patreon after that Mares in Black started there Patreon and encouraged other hobbyists to start their own. But I didn't feel I had much to offer to patrons. I don't want to have sales items that are just for patrons. I almost never do tutorials. I could do giveaways, but I don't really want to limit those in that way. So really, ko-fi is a nice choice. 
     So to wrap up I am going to borrow some of Jennifer's word. Blogging can be hard and consistently creating content takes a lot of work. I have heard from several people saying that they like to read my blog in the morning while they have their coffee. So maybe you might consider buying me a coffee once in a while. I would definitely appreciate it. 


Monday, March 29, 2021

Post Sale Wrap Up

      People have often expressed that they are amazed at how I can run the live sales by myself. Or even said it would overwhelm them. My response is usually that I am super organized and crazy. The crazy helps for sure. I just roll with whatever happens. But the super organized and efficient makes it so I don't end up even crazier than I start out. Sunday when I got ready to do my invoicing and packing I got everything set up in easy stations. I put my computer up on a box so I could stand and hopefully save my back, I had the postage scale ready, the bag of miniature things, and all the bubble mailers, boxes, tissue paper, stickers, business cards and of course, bags of claimed items. I was ready to go. 

     I was planning on listening to the the Mares in Black while I worked but it turns out I can't invoice if I have to concentrate at all on what I am listening to. So I put YouTube on TV, and the Halestorm channel, and had a great time listening to my favorite band and invoicing. 
     As I did the invoicing for each batch of items I also packed and weighed them. I then put the person's name on the package, and the weight of the package. This will make doing the shipping labels so much faster than it could be!

     Next I put everything back in alphabetical order, which will also make things go more quickly when it comes to printing out and applying the shipping labels. Whatever I can do to make things more efficient. 
     On that note, I was thinking about the new way I want to try to do the live sales and trying to think of ways to make the invoicing more efficient. I was thinking that maybe preregistering could be helpful. All I actually want from people at the end of the sale is their email address (so I know where to send the invoice), the country they live in (for the shipping rate) and if their name is different on their paypal so I don't have to figure out where the money came from. Most people do a really great job at this and give me exactly what I ask for. Some people do not and what was meant to make things a bit easier for me actually makes it a bit harder. People who were not preregistered would still be able to purchase, but having most people's info could be helpful. But I don't know if it's going to be a thing. I'll have to think about it. 
     In news unrelated to my live sale, I already got some progress photos of my new arena! It was not even supposed to be started until the middle of April so this is definitely exciting for me. I know that even if it is finished fairly soon it will likely be a long time before I see it. But I am prepared for that.
     So another live sale if finished and I am going to start working on shipping today. I am also, as usual, thinking of ways to make the sales run more efficiently. We will see how it goes. Now I can shift my focus to the Field of Dolls Online show. Entries and uploading are open until April 10th. There are tons of prizes! More prizes are always welcome!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Live sale Expectations vs Reality

      There are definitely some things you can expect from one of my live sales. One is that I am going to be wearing makeup. I love makeup and actually wear it most days. This year I have skipped doing a full face for the most part because wearing a mask covers half of it up, would rub it off potentially and, honestly, it's a few more minutes I can sleep in the morning when I don't do a full face. 
      But for my live sale this past Saturday I went all out in getting back to being me. I did a full face of makeup (for anyone curious, the eyeshadow, eye primer, brow products and foundation are all Urban Decay. Which has been one of my top favorite brands for a very long time). I also put on a bunch of jewelry, most of which I have not bothered with in a year. Masks get in the way of my dangly earrings and the rest I just have not felt like doing. This was really normal. I loved it. 

Another thing that is very common for my sales is seeing this super-close face as I read comments. 
And seeing me drink seltzer (I usually have orange but this was peach)
There is also often an empty frame as I try to organize things in the bags. I try to keep a running commentary so at least it is not too weird and boring. 
     There is also usually some thinking faces. Though this may have been a biting my tongue moment. I had a couple of frustrating times during the sale. I go over the rules and post them in the video description, but I think people either don't read them or ignore them. At least this is a good shot of my earrings. 
This past sale I also had a lot of this. This is me completely forgetting my words. Completely forgetting the name of a thing. It happened often. Words are hard. 
Not remembering "Clydesdale" was painful for me. These were not split second faces, these were several seconds long as I struggled to remember easy things that I have known for years. I am very tired and burnt out. I need a better way to do this. 
I also of course had plenty of showing of items, while also working out the best place to hold them to show the details without the awesome ring light washing them out. Together we found the perfect compromise. Which was both close (and at an angle) for details and further back for more clarity. 
    There were definitely times I was frustrated during the sale. Some of it was forgetting what I meant to say, forgetting the names of things or just being frustrated at how long things seemed to take. I wasn't kidding, I don't know that having a helper would actually be super helpful. MAYBE for keeping bags alphabetized, though the good thing about doing it myself is I have (sometimes) a visual memory of exactly where I put a bag. Which (theoretically) makes it quicker to sort. Even through the frustrating stuff I had a lot of happiness. I do love live sales, after I get through the nerves. 
    And definitely a lot of comments and conversation made me laugh! Lives sales are fun, and they are meant to be fun. Before, and during, the sale I was thinking of ways to make them more fun for everyone. 
      I think the biggest complaint I have heard from people is that their connection speed is not fast enough to snag the things they want. By the time they actually see the items come up they have already been claimed. There is nothing I can do about that and it makes me very frustrated too. I want this to be fair for everyone. We did see so many acts of kindness where people who had managed to claim several of one type of item gave up one, or more, of them so more people could get something they wanted. It did make a bit of extra work, but everyone was patient and my bag sorting system made it fairly easy. I also seemed to have quite a delay at times before I saw comments, but we worked it out and 40something people got at least one item. It was really nice to see everyone taking care of each other. It definitely helped the frustrating parts of things. 
     But really, there needs to be a better way. I have been thinking about how Terri Wright does her sales. Where she does a preview of different groups of items and then at a specific time the same photo is posted but with a claim number. The time stamp of whoever claimed first is the one who gets it. Which means you don't have to have the fastest connection, just the fastest fingers. Which still doesn't make it that much easier for everyone, but I think makes it more fair. Part of why I was so distracted the other day may have been that I was thinking about how to do the sale like that, but still live. People say they enjoy watching my live sales because they are entertaining, not just for the stuff. So I was thinking and thinking and I may have figured it out. Maybe. 
     I want to do a semi-live sale. Which is what I might call it, even though it WOULD be live, I would just not be showing the items. I want to try it the way Terri does, with the photos of the items to be claimed going up at different intervals. I was thinking small groups (or larger groups?) could go up every 5 minutes, instead of every 15. Or maybe 10 minutes if the group I am putting up is large. And the rule would be like Terri's rule, where for X-number of minutes you were only allowed to claim one item from the group. That would make it more fair for people to get their items, because 2:00 is 2:00 everywhere (or whatever time it is in your time zone). That would take connection speed out of the equation. And how would I also make it live? Well, easy. I would go live so people could chatter and watch me be a crazy person and then every 5-10 minutes a different lot of items would go up. In the interim between lots I would check the claims, make the bags and do the sorting, talk to people, do trivia and so on. I have pictured it and I do think it would work. The only issue I see is people needing to either split their screens to watch the page for the new items AND watch the video, or have two devices to be able to do both. But I think it would work. 
     I have no idea if I explained that well or not, or even really if it would work. But I have been thinking for over a year on how to make the sales the fairest they can be for everyone. I think this might be the way. The live portion would still be me announcing who got what and doing the sorting, but I think it is feasible. I might do a very small scale sale before August 14th (which is the next live sale) to see if this will even work. But I think it would be more fair and would save some time. Doing a 2 and a half hour live sale is definitely tiring. And I know not everyone wants to sit at their computer for that long. 
     I am going to take a small break. I have to get the shipping all done from this sale, I have some orders I need to get to, but then I might see about making a handful of items to do a trial run of the potentially new style of live sale. I really only need about 4 or 5 different groups to really show if this idea would work. If and when I decide to try this out I will make sure there is plenty of notice! The trial won't work if there is no one watching. 

Also, today is my birthday!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Before the Sale

      I try to have everything finished for a live sale ahead of time. It makes me super twitchy to think I might be late (I don't like to be late for things) or that I won't be ready, have something done, etc. After a live sale I usually take it fairly easy for a month. I don't stop working (don't be silly!) but I work less. I read a lot more. Then the panic slowly starts to build. I worry about not having enough stuff for everyone that wants it. About not having a good enough variety. All the things. Silly Anne, it doesn't really matter if you have just some things or tons of things. Less might even be better. I might have to try that. I have some ideas. 
      Anyway, with one thing and another I ran out of time to make the cool little gift bags I did last time for mystery bags. People seem to be into mystery bags, so I wanted to make sure to have them. So when I was at Walmart I picked up some cool neon envelopes and yesterday morning I was sorting money and stuffing envelopes. Not really how I pictured my morning going, but that's what happened. 
      I got that taken care of, washed my hair and took note that the sample sized shampoo and conditioner I got as a birthday gift from Sephora is AMAZING and makes my hair insanely soft. I may need to buy real sized bottles. I am super scared of knowing how much it costs. But I do love my hair, and this stuff seems worth it. 
     Anyway, I had some lunch, read a couple of pages in my book and got to setting up for the sale. Several sales ago I figured out the best way to not grab specific prizes for people (which I always tried not to do anyway) was to sort out the sale and stick the prizes in between the groups of items. This is how I visually plan out my sales as well. This time I knew that I was starting with the stablemates (the box of them ended up stacked on the dolls before I turned the camera on) and the first offerings that I made were some chaps and boots left from the last sale. Then a variety of different smaller items, the dolls, sorted by type, and then I moved into the new items. It still ran kind of long. People say they enjoy the sales but they average about 2 and a half hours most of the time. I am not totally convinced having a helper would make it any better. Maybe, but I am not really sure of it. 
     I had my clipboard with the printed out names on them. These are people that have attended my sales, expressed interest, and so on. I feel like I found an old list because I had to write on a lot of bags. 

     I also had my unicorn backdrop (a gift from Lynn Isenbarger) set up, and my ring light (a gift from Gail Berg). I was pretty much set. I even had time for a nap. If I had any room on the bed that is. 
      So the projects were all finished, the sale space was set up, I was ready and then I had an hour to wait. I was glad I was not down to the last minute with things, but boy was that last hour hard to wait through. The nerves just kept on building and building. Because as much fun as I have holding the live sales, they are super scary at the beginning. I don't know that that will ever go away. 
     Invoicing is happening today. Now THAT is something I could use a helper for. 


Friday, March 26, 2021

Miniature add-on items

     For a while now, at least since my miniatures sale last August, I have offered a variety of miniatures either during live sales or just whenever people have wanted them. I will not be showing any of these items during the sale, but they can be added on to any order, or even ordered without buying anything during the sale. I have multiples of everything.

vodka $5, whiskey $5, energy drink $3

cell phone $5, flamingo pair $5, rubber chicken $2

mug coffee $3 each 

Coke Zero, Diet Coke, Classic Coke $3 each

Hot coffee $3 each (no white)

bubble tea $3 each

iced coffee $3 each

water $3 each

folding chair $5 each

hot latte $3 each

pink laptop $5 each

Starbucks drink $3 each

lemon water set $10

pastry $2

lemon iced tea $4
carrot $2

pizza $2

handcuffs $5 

For anyone curious, as of yesterday I have finished 1498 dolls.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Live Sale Preview

Ready, set, go! Here is my Field of Dolls Live Sale preview catalog. Most of these photos were quick ones I took previously and just compiled to give an idea of what I have available. 
micro MHTUs (Model Horse Transit Units) $5 each

removable helmets $15 each

Saddlebags are $40 each

I do actually have 2 purple sets, though not 3 like these photos would suggest.

saddlebag stuff is $15 a set

Miniature backpacks $25 each. LOTS of designs!

Cross country kits. Come with medband and watch. $35 each I also have magenta, yellow, burgundy and a second pale pink. 

saddle pads $15 each

Bareback pads $40 each (they do all come with girths)

Dog sets, $35 each

Judges kits $5 each, show numbers $1 set of 4

Mens and ladies cutting chaps $30 each. Splint and skid boots $15 a pair

Casual western and English dolls. $200 each

Western pleasure dolls $220 each

Casual dolls $200 each

Tall cowboys with removable cutting chaps, $250 each

Mystery Hunt seat dolls (navy coats, white shirts, beige breeches, bendy necks) Not finished in time to get a photo for the post! $220 each.