Sunday, October 23, 2011

Interview with Michelle AKA mistlebee

The ProSeller Corner Tell the world a little bit about yourself.

Michelle My name is Michelle (AKA mistlebee), and my shop is called the ALL THINGS DUTCH HARBOR AND UNALASKA GIFT SHOP.

I have lived on Unalaska Island since 1987, when I came up to work on an at sea processing ship which processed opilio, bairdi and king crab caught in the Bering Sea. After two years I began working on the fishing boats, catching crab, scallops, pea cod, black cod and halibut. In 1994 I went fishing for the last time and then started working on land.

I am single, permanently so, as far as I can tell. I do not have children.

I live with five cats and feed a handful of stray cats which come to my doorstep. I have regulars among the foxes and bald eagles which share the island with humans. They show up when the weather turns cold and some of them have names now.

I currently work as a longshoreman on the docks, barges and container ships. Alaska has been an adventure from day one and life here has been the stuff of many stories which have entertained my family and friends. I am the family adventurer/eccentric.

The ProSeller Corner When did you start designing at Zazzle and what made you choose them?

Michelle I actually made my first design at Zazzle in 2006, when I made a Christmas card to send to friends and family.

I didn't open a store until May of 2010. I don't know why I chose Zazzle over other options. I think I liked the prices when I made my first Christmas card.

I have liked the quality of the products I have ordered for myself, and I have received positive feedback from friends and family for gifts they have received, which were sent directly from the manufacturers.

Product quality has always been a big plus in the comments I have received.

The ProSeller Corner Do you have any other stores at Zazzle?

Michelle I currently have started a shoe store and I am moving my shoe designs from my gift shop to the new store, which is called FOOTISHES CUSTOM KEDS SHOES FOOTWEAR.

When all my current shoe designs are moved to the Footishes store, I will remove those categories from my store and focus more on my other products, especially those which feature my photography.

My shoes have digital art designs which I have created from scratch by playing around with my graphics program, and some of them have photographic images taken by me which lended themselves well to shoe designs.

Some of my shoes have scenery from Unalaska Island, or local wildflowers, or garden flowers. I have a few designs with beach scenery and shorebirds and one design with a photo of a parkee squirrel. I altered a photo of a family of sea otters to create an effect like an oil painting and fitted it onto a shoe.

I enjoy making unique patterns and designs. To date, the only shoe which has sold had a silhouette of a raven from a modified photo on the top of a woman's slip-on shoe. That raven photo has seen some mileage and it has helped to sell other products as well.

I plan to move a few other products, such as men's neckties, to their own stores because they aren't really supportive of my gift shop's main theme and the number of designs for those products will now support a separate store. But that is all in the future and there will be links on my main store's homepage when the new stores are ready for business.

The ProSeller Corner What has been you best selling product?

Michelle My postcards are always selling. Sometimes people will come in and buy dozens or even nearly every photo image I have on a postcard. One of my friends bought some for her postcard exchange club and I got to see the end product. I was impressed with the quality.

Another product which has sold the most has been my coffee mugs, mostly those with photos of the fishing boats which work out of the port of Dutch Harbor.

Posters of the fishing boats sell now and again, more so than other products.

Everything else is hit or miss, mostly miss.

The ProSeller Corner What do you enjoy doing when you're not working on your store?

Michelle I go out hiking and taking more photographs.

Working on my store has changed the focus of my photography (no pun intended). I look for images which would make good backgrounds , texture designs, or design elements for collages and abstracts for my products, as well as collecting yet more photos of the island scenery, the plants, the animals, the insects and the fishing boats.

Photography is very relaxing for me and I get into a zen state of consciousness sometimes, becoming "one" with my environment and the things in it. Nature is fascinating, and the camera sees and captures things I miss because it isn't thinking about one particular thing, but instead, records all that comes within view of the lens.

Because of this, a whole new world has opened up to me and it is an adventure finding out what the camera has captured for me each time I process through the images.

The ProSeller Corner How do you balance your time between Zazzle and life?

Michelle I would not use the term "balance". Life has its demands and I answer those as they come. Zazzle fills in the gaps, sometimes small and sometimes large, between life's demands. And then there are the opportunities for photo shoots, which are like demands, but with greater rewards.

The ProSeller Corner How long had you been with Zazzle before you reached a ProSeller status?

Michelle About a year.

The ProSeller Corner Getting noticed and becoming a ProSeller takes a lot of hard work and time. What advice would you give to those aspiring to become a ProSeller?

Michelle Don't quit your day job.

I am not a good person to give advice on promoting your store or products as far as blogs or other devices go.

The one thing I focus on is making sure my titles, descriptions, and tags all work together to draw search engines from outside of Zazzle. When it comes to search engines, content is king

Content means your title accurately describes your product and it uses widely used key search words.

Content means that you have said enough about your product in your description to create a profile of related key word terms which will reflect what people would use to find a product like the one you offer.

Content means that any tags you use will reflect the key words in your title and description, creating a continuity which will put you high in the search engines' ranking and first in the results.

If you are unsure of how to create content, do a few searches for similar products and look at what comes up in the first 20 results and see what they have in common as far as content goes. A pattern will emerge.

And do your best to make quality designs. Getting people to look at your work is half the battle, making them want to buy it because it looks so darned good or it fits their needs is the other half.


Jasmine said...

Wow Michelle, you really have a lot to say!! :) Lots of great content in this interview.

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