June 2009 archive

Thuh Blog: New Look and Linkees

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I wanted to write about some changes I’ve been making to my blog and kind of ‘splain myself.

The Theme – I was rockin’ that WordPress “Albeo” theme for quite a while and I was really bored with it. I look at the darn thing every day and it just got old, ya know? It’s hard to find a format what will work with my content, mainly the larger photos I like to post…the better to see those scrapbook products with, my dear. I road tested a few new formats and have settled on this one.

The Header – This is my first theme with a customizable header and I finally figured out how to make one, LOL! The photo I have up there now is one I took of the Colosseum when I visited Rome in October 2006. I hope to occasionally change up the header photo.

The Memory Works Stuff – This is the main change I wanted to talk about. I’ve been a Memory Works consultant since February 2007 and I’ve had this blog since January 2007. So for the last 2+ years, I’ve kind of made it a point not to mix the two. My blog is about my scrapbook obsession, period. In almost 470 posts, I haven’t really talked about Memory Works or the products I sell. I’ve mentioned that I host crops, my “customers,” etc. but I think I’ve been pretty good about keeping this an obsessed scrapbooker’s blog vs. a Memory Works blog.

In all honesty, part of the reason I did it at the beginning was that they would’ve kicked me off of CKMB (Creating Keepsakes Message Board) if this was an MW blog. Their rule was that if you linked to your blog in your siggie, the blog’s primary purpose could not be to promote your biz. One time I had a close call when the CK tech people sent me a warning that I would be banned if I didn’t get rid of my blog link in my siggie. I politely explained that, while I was a consultant, the blog was a personal blog not a Memory Works blog. Then my people called their people and – badda bing – we came to an understanding. Nah, but that little episode did make me ultra paranoid about keeping it un-MW because I didn’t want to be sent packing from CKMB.

Well, since then, I’ve chosen to go packing on my own so CKMB has not been the issue for some time. I guess I just always felt weird about self-promoting, or coming off as a salesperson instead of as your scrapbooking friend who just wants to talk about the cute new stuff, ya know? But I guess the time has finally come where I can reconcile it all. This is my damn blog and if I want to talk about Memory Works and share a link or publicize my products, I’m going to! For shizzle. I figure after all the free publicity I’ve given, what, hundreds (?) of other companies over the years, it’s my turn. When I share products with you, I always make a point to provide a link where you can see more (even though some of them make it difficult or impossible to do so, something I just don’t get). My policy was to, if possible, link to the product manufacturer or however I could get you closest to the source of something. For instance, when I wrote about the Share and Tell system, I linked directly to the Pebbles Inc. website, not to an online store who sells it, or to another blogger that wrote about it. I mean, I might do all those other links in addition to, but I have always tried to drive traffic to the manufacturer.

But from now on, you will see me linking to product listings on my Memory Works site. I truly hope that doesn’t offend anyone. Why? Because I love you! I don’t want to ever become a ‘shove it down your throat’ salesperson. Heck, I can’t stand people like that (an example…a school mom I know wears her Pampered Chef polo to every. single. school event. I mean, seriously??). But I figure if I’m taking the time, love, and devotion to write up a product I love, and MW happens to carry said product, I’m going to link to my own site. Maybe you will never, ever, in a million years place an order with me and that is totally fine. But a girl can try, can’t she? {As it happens, the link to my Memory Works site is currently the “top click” on my blog and yet only one online friend has placed an order with me so far.}

This is kind of a side note but one thing that amazes me is that for all the free product endorsements I’ve provided for two years, with linkees to the manufacturer, I can probably count on one hand the number of times they have thanked me for the link. Either they are ungrateful, or they don’t know how to check their stats or run a Google check, which are basics I’d think scrapbook companies would possess. Anyway, I just don’t want you to think that all those manufacturers will be sorry to see my links go, LOL. They never even noticed them in the first place.

And just for the record, I have never received any sort of compensation for writing this dang blog. It has all been on my own time, for no financial gain. The few times I’ve received a free demo product in the mail, I’ve disclosed that in the review (the only ones coming to mind are the Ribbon Ring and the Angel Baby scrapbooking kit). I could have chosen to make some money off my blog with ads or some such, but I never did do that. I hope this MW thang is a happy medium that doesn’t bug you too much.

I guess that’s it. If I get out of hand with the Memory Works stuff, to the point where it’s so overdone that you run from the room screaming…tell me. A good smack upside the head usually works. Then in your best New York accent, say, “Snap out of it!” just like Cher said to Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck. I mean it.

If you have any thoughts on the whole matter, please share. Even if you hate everything I just said. Seriously.

Walmart, Michaels, the LSS…Oh My!

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I had the opportunity to do some shopping in The Big City, as I had a fun Girls Weekend at the beach and, what do you know, I had to drive through civilization to get there. Here’s my shopping report:

On Clearance at Mike’s: Prima flower milk jars($6.99 down to $2.99), and Making Memories 8×8 paper pad, Travel. See those cream colored flowers in the bottom left of the photo? I had those in my hand. They went on a quite a walk around the store with me. I had layout ideas in my head on which I would use them.

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But I put them back on the shelf when I found this. Ah, paper punches on Clearance! Wow, that worked out nicely….with the photos stacked on top of each other, I almost matched them up, didn’t I? These were on an end cap, where our Mike’s now has a lot of scrap clearance these days.

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Here is the punch I bought: Regularly $14.99, marked down to $7.99, and with my 40% coupon, it cost me just over $5. Did I get a great deal or what? Sounds like 66% off to me! Isn’t it cute, how it does the zigzag edge, which reminds me of Bazzill’s specialty cardstock…now I can make it myself. This punch not only punches the zigzag shape, it also embosses a dotted line, adding the perfect detail. I’m so happy I got it!

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My other purchase from Michaels, a bling title that says “Beach.” This is perfect for the title of my Girls Weekend layout. I’m going to title it “Beach Girls”.

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Remember, I told you HERE that my last LSS (still, it’s 45 minutes away) sent out an e-mail that they need help through the summer and, hopefully, they would not have to close in the fall. So I paid a little visit, didn’t I?

ETA: Chris commented about Sass Lass and MME being at Michaels so I’m going to clarify here….everything below here was from my LSS, except the clipboards which are from Wallie World ~ I wrote this post at 1am so I wasn’t very clear :)

Here is a predone layout I bought. Number one, I love it…the Love title, the white puff paint dots around the scallops, and the Basic Grey line that was used, which I happen to have plenty of, I’m going to make a companion page to go with this. From the 50% off table, so I paid about $3 for it.

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Here are some bee-you-tiful papers I got from My Minds Eye. Love, love, LOVE scalloped edges.

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Here is a sheet of Flair Designs paper. I like how you can cut it apart for use on your pages.

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Here’s some more goodies. The back of one of the MME (My Mind’s Eye) sheets, Basic Grey “Offbeat” chipboard stickers, some journal and title spots from MME, and a great deal on a ribbon pack (50% off).

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Finally, may I share a whole lotta’ Sass Lass love? Yep, these were also on the clearance table, and only cost me $2.49…wait, no! Half off of $2.49 would be about $1.25 each, or $5 for all four.

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Oh, not “finally!” I forgot to show you the clipboards I got from Walmart. I’m going to alter them, and use them in my home office. They cost under $1 each…

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“Thank you for watching. This has been Scrapbook Obsession reporting from inside Scrapbook World.”

Cosmo Cricket “Early Bird”

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Yippie kie YAY! Memory Works now has the new COSMO CRICKET!! I love the color way, the cherries, just the general happy-ness of it.

Here’s what you get with our exclusive THEME SET: Six 12×12 sheets of double-sided patterned cardstock paper and one 12×12 sheet of coordinating cardstock strips. ($6.50)

Here’s the ELEMENTS sheet: One 12×12 sheet of double-sided cardstock cut-apart journaling cards and elements ($1.00).

and here are the STICKERS: One 5 3/4 x 13 sheet of weather-worn cardstock stickers ($2.00)

You know, that’s not bad. You could have all three pieces (well, 9 pieces technically) for under $10. Cosmo has kept their prices really reasonable.

HERE is a Cosmo Cricket blog post from April 2009 showing the “sneak peek” of this line, but it has great, large photos of all the pieces. You’ll notice that the Papers and Elements I show above are actually double-sided…more than meets the eye…I like that!

Here is a layout from the CC blog, by Julie Comstock (HERE’s her Twitter!):

Also from their blog, a recipe box by LISA FALDUTO

…and Early Bird cards by MAREN BENEDICT, from the CC Design Team:

Here is a fun purse covered in an Early Bird pattern…alas, it’s not real, but a mere digital creation…still super cute!

There are more Cosmo Cricket “Early Bird” layouts and projects on their blog HERE, HERE, and HERE. I just love their BLOG….pure and total eye candy, plus those people are wicked funny.

Oh, MEMORY WORKS also has the Cosmo Cricket SPINNER CARD, which I guess has been on backorder (must be popular). 5″ square chipboard card. Bottle spins freely in the card ($1.50).

So if I have you jones-in’ for some CC “Early Bird,” go get some at your LSS or click on ‘I’m a MW Consultant‘ (top left) and we’ll order you some…

Cricut Survey: Mac or PC?

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I’m on the mailing list for CRICUT. They send out a newsletter, new cartridge announcements, etc. Here is the one I received today:
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Hi there! In order to better serve you, we wanted to know what type of computer you are using. It is just one question and we will enter you to win the Cricut Sampler cartridge. Thanks for your time!

Thanks,
Denise Rolfe
Market Research Director

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All I had to do was click the link, choose Mac, PC, or Both, and enter my e-mail addie. Easy peasy.

Being a Mac girl myself, I was very eager to answer this survey. I want retailers to know that there ARE a lot of us out here so they can start making “PC only” products more available to those of us who have chosen the superior product (ahem…did you catch that?). If you’re also a Mac girl, I implore you to take the survey (there’s even a prize drawing….c’mon, you know you want to…). Mac girls, PC girls, “both” girls….if you’re not already on their mailing list, you can join up at the bottom of the HOME PAGE.

Update on Journaling Spot Swap #2

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I talked about the journal spot swap I was hosting HERE. Well, it’s done and, boy howdy, was it fun! Everyone came through, sent them in, and did a wonderful job. Some ladies sent more than one set to share….PATTI set the record by sending five sets! Patti also sent a whole book of stamps which helped cover any gaps in postage and I was so grateful (‘cuz you know DH’s first words when I told him I was hosting a swap were, “How much is that going to cost us? LOL). Anyway, all of the journaling spots were rockin’ and it was such a pleasure to host. Here is a semi-sneak of what they all looked like, while in the sorting process and then my own pile when I was done.

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Aren’t you jealous you didn’t join up? LOL! To thank everyone for participating, I sent them each a Mike’s stamp and then some scallop squares I punched with my new favorite punch. And here is a pic of all the cards and little gifties I was sent as the swap hostess…..jeepers, if I knew you got all sorts of pressies for hosting, I would’ve done it ages ago! {Hee, just kidding…}

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Look at what Patti sent! Tons and tons of stamped images from her much-envied stamp collection. These will be so fun to color in and use on scrapbook pages and cards…

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So, I just wanted to share my experience at hosting my first scrapbooking swap. It was totally wonderful the entire way and I highly recommend it to anyone. The AMR Girlz are already posting layouts they’re making with the journaling spots received in this swap. Here is one….lovely, huh?

LAYOUT BY LISA aka LBOREGON, journaling spot by KAY aka kaydrenth

If there are more, I will post them here. To quote my friend RACHEL….Toodles!

CK Getting Thinner and a Possible LSS Closure…{Sigh}

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I got the new issue of CREATING KEEPSAKES at Target last Friday. I’ve flipped through it and like it a lot. It is pretty thin and I’m getting so worried that even CK will go the way of the dodo bird….extinct. All of these magazines shutting down is just depressing me to no end (read my past posts about HERE, HERE, and HERE).

Speaking of shutting down, I got this sad e-mail from the only LSS left in my area (I will quote part of it directly from their newsletter):

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As many of you know, (store name) has been severely impacted by the poor economy in the past year. We have always relied heavily on the year round tourism … and with the high gas prices beginning late last spring followed by the economic crash in the fall we haven’t had that support for over a year now. While we have strived not only to keep our doors open, but have continued to bring in new product during this difficult time, sales continue to drop. Things have gone from bad to worse.

We have always been hopeful that we could survive this tough economic time, but we realize that we cannot keep going at the current pace. If sales do not pick up over the summer, we will be forced to close our doors in the fall. We promised our customers we would not just close our doors quietly so we feel we must be honest with you about our situation.
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I feel so sorry, well, for myself of course, but mostly for these 2 sweet ladies who’ve done nothing but run a wonderful store for several years, only to have their dream possibly crushed by this awful economy. They did include a coupon for $5 off any $25 purchase that you can print and use as many times as you like (one per visit) between now and the end of August. I hope that will motivate shoppers to come to their rescue, although I know scrapbooking typically slows down in the summer as we all get busy with outdoor activities and kids being out of school. I will pray (and shop) and hope they can pull it out. This is our last “local” store…we used to have 7 within an hour of me. If this store closes, my closest store will be about 2 hours away. I wish I had millions of dollars and could help these stores stay afloat until better times.

I know many of you have lost most or all of your LSSs in recent times and it’s crushing, isn’t it?

Memory Works: Website, Catalogs, and Selling Goals

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Well, I took the plunge. I just signed up for my own website with Memory Works again! Whoo hoo, feels good! What didn’t feel good was the $25 set-up fee but, oh well, it’s the price of doing business, right? Then it will cost me $10.95/month to keep it. That is for the “Basic” option, which has all the features I really need. There is also a “Premium” option for $18.95/month (plus the $25 set-up fee, of course). So let’s do the math, shall we? I make 20% profit on everything I sell through Memory Works. So just to break even and pay for my website, I have to sell at least $55 retail of MW goodies each month.

Then, let’s average out my catalog cost: They cost me $3 per catalog, plus shipping costs from MW to me, and me to the customer…we’re talking about $5 cost to me per catalog I give out to customers (that would be an average just for estimating sake…sometimes I hand them right to the customer with zero shipping cost, other times it costs me $4-5 to ship a catalog). Say I give out 5 catalogs per month, that’s about $25 per month in catalog costs. To make that money back, I will need to sell $125 in product to cover my catalog costs.

So, my selling goal will be $55 plus $125 = $180 per month, and that’s just to break even. I like to have goals. Then I know what I’m striving for. Now, to put some other things in motion to make that happen. It’s exciting! I know it will be super tough in this economy, so wish me luck….

Oh! I almost forgot to tell you my website, should you be interested (LOL). It’s http://erika.memory-works.com. Check it out and let me know if you have any questions.

Scrapbook Message Boards: Survey and a RAK

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As you might know, I’m a big fan of chatting on scrapbook message boards. The ones I’m most active on TWO PEAS IN A BUCKET and ALL MOMENTS REMEMBERED. I was on the CREATING KEEPSAKES message board for a long time before these, although all their format changes caused me to leave when I had to log on every single time I wanted to post (ya know, that’s quite a lot!) and would never accept an avatar pic, which made me feel like a faceless troll, LOL!

So, I’m just wondering what message boards you all enjoy. Please leave me a comment telling me where you like to hang out. Include linkees please! Tell me what you like and don’t like about message boards (you don’t have to name names on the negative part if ya don’t want to…). What makes a good message board? Why are you a long time member of certain places? Tell me all about it. Don’t forget to leave a link to your blog or check back to see if you’ve won!

For everyone who leaves a comment on THIS here post by midnight PST on June 11, 2009…I will enter your name into random.org and pick the winner of a small RAK.

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