Blogging, planning…oh, and crafting

Sunday was such a fun day! I was busy all day long. I worked on the blog, I spent hours on Pinterest, I signed up for Mail Chimp (I’m sure you saw that…please subscribe! There are benefits!) and planned out the week. I did a lot to help my business grow. It was a day well spent.

Monday I worked at my full time job then added a coupon code to my Etsy shop. From there I set up an email campaign with Mail Chimp. Subscribers now get the coupon code. I did some research and some reading. I read about ways to grow my blog, get traffic to my shop, get more followers on Pinterest, how to make money on Twitter. I even scheduled pins with Tailwind. I was putting in some time to be sure my new little business was going to succeed! I was tired when I went to bed last night. Then it hit me.

I was doing all of these things. All good things. All necessary to grow the business. But I hadn’t created anything in days! I had lost sight of why I was doing all of this! Yes, I want to blog. I love blogging. I love doing all the business stuff. But, a couple of months ago my 5 year old grandson asked me what my dream was. What I really wanted to do. “Sell my crafts on Etsy. That’s what I’d like to do” is how I answered him. He said “Then do it, Mucka! You can do it! All you need is confidence!” Out of the mouths of babes, right?

Today after work I went to the grocery and came home and sat at my computer designing some stencils. I took those stencils and etched some vases. You’ll see those on my Etsy shop in the next couple days!

I feel so much better. I learned that I need to stay focused on my main goal. All the other things were created to support the first. If I don’t do the thing I love, “make pretty things” then there will be nothing to sell on Etsy, will there??

So, added to my calendar each week will be big blocks of crafting time. It’s all about focus and balance. Make sure when you’re working on your blog, or shop, or whatever it may be, that you take time to do what got you into that in the first place! Keep a firm grasp on the roots. You have to have those to grow your business, too!

Happily crafty,

Nancy

Focus

Reasons to set up shop on Etsy

Etsy shop screen grab

 

As promised, we’re going to talk about Etsy today. I love Etsy. I have since the moment I heard of it. I’m pretty sure my daughter-in-law is the one who told me about it. She’s very crafty! She has an ongoing list of ‘favorite items’ so I always have somewhere to find gifts for her. I love that! What a cool idea! Well, I got on there and started looking around. Wow! You can find just about anything you want on there! It’s awesome! That’s just from a buyer’s perspective. But, from a SELLER’S perspective…it’s possibly even better!

How could it be better? Well, in 2014 Etsy had a revenue of $195.6 million. That means it’s a HUGE draw. That’s just what Etsy made. They charge us as sellers 20 cents per listing and 3.5% of the sales price. To  me, that’s a small price to pay to sit at home and sell my crafts (or vintage items or supplies…all three are ok on Etsy) to people from all around the world. I don’t have to lug them to craft shows if I don’t want to. Etsy handles the transaction. I just make the items and ship them. But if Etsy made that much, stop and think (and do the math if you like) about how much sellers made! Wowzers! The sky truly is the limit. You’ll need to do the marketing, of course, but just being on there gives you a better chance than going it alone. At least until you get established.

I’m just going to tick off a few facts about selling on Etsy:

  • It’s a very large, successful marketplace, as I mentioned above.
  • Etsy provides a lot of support to their sellers in the way of a seller’s handbook, ‘steps to success’, email updates and tips, forums to connect with other sellers.
  • They encourage sellers to support one another, it’s a community (one of my favorite things)
  • A very easy to use mobile app “Sell on Etsy” which they now have for the iPad as well.
  • Intuitive, user friendly seller interface that walks you all the way through shipping.
  • Oh, did I mention shipping? Discounted shipping!

Those are just a few things to help you make up your mind if you’re on the fence. If you do start a shop, or have one now, please let me know! I’d love to ‘favorite’ your shop!

Note: This blog may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. I will always only have links to products/companies I use and would recommend to you!

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to visit my shop and my Facebook page as well as hang out with me on Pinterest!

Nancy

Reasons To Blog

You need a reason to blog? Of course you do! I bet you have a lot of reasons. We’ll talk about a few here. Just as a side note, my next post will be reasons to sell on Etsy. I haven’t touched on that topic for a while. I don’t want to lose my small business followers! But, for today, we’re talking about your reasons to blog!

I started this blog to go hand in hand with my Etsy shop. To promote it, to boost its impact. It’s already become much more than that to me, though. But, I started with one reason. You probably will or did, too. Maybe you just had something you wanted to say. Sometimes that’s the case. A blog is a great place to just tell it like it is. Get things off your chest. Influence people on a subject that’s important to you.

You may just love to write. About anything. Blogs like that can be so much fun. Just to see what’s on someone’s mind. You can learn a lot that way, for sure. Photographers use blogs a lot to show off their work and promote it. If you’re an expert on something, sharing your expertise is good, too.

So, you’ve got your first reason. What are others? And the perks? Here’s what I’ve found;

  • Blogging involves discipline. We talked some about that on the last post. You need to schedule and plan. It’s a good way to grow your discipline skills
  • You get to know other people. You don’t have to go anywhere to blog so if you’re shy, it’s the perfect vehicle to meet people with similar interests.
  • You can earn money. Sometimes really good money. There are a lot of people who earn a living solely by blogging. How cool is that? As a matter of fact, I just became a member of an affiliate program, which you’ll be seeing on here in the next day or so. (I won’t forget my disclaimers) This is part of my business. It’s part of mgthumbprints. It will earn money for me just like the shop. Cool, huh? I’ll do a post on affiliate programs at some point soon.
  • Product development. If you are a crafter or other manufacturer, your blog audience is a good place to find ideas or get opinions on what you’re up to. You don’t want to give away too much info but you sure can pick your readers brains on your ideas!

No matter your reasons for blogging, the best thing to do is keep it up! There are many benefits to you and your readers. Even if you have a small audience, you could touch one of them and change their lives. Seriously! Happy blogging!

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On Being Productive

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If you happen to follow me on Facebook then you’re laughing about now. I had one of the most unproductive days ever today. Of course, I posted about that. That gave me the idea to write about being productive.

Today was totally out of my control. Days like that happen. You just have to shake those off and move on. You can’t control other people or many situations, no matter how much we try. (Can you say control freak?) We learn from things like this. What did I learn? Here are a few things:

  • First of all, relax. If you have a plan laid out and something derails it, take a deep breath. Start tomorrow with what you were going to do today…as much as you can. I mean, if you have appointments tomorrow then you’ll need to adjust. But mentally realize things can and will wait.
  • As I mentioned in a previous post, write out your plan. If you’re blogging, keep a calendar of blog topics and plan ahead. If you have an idea for a post, write it down that day on the calendar (so you don’t forget), then, when you decide to schedule it, check it off so you know you’ve scheduled that one.

Actually, you can write ahead if you want. WordPress allows you to schedule your                    posts ahead of time. Most, if not all, blogging software allows that. It’s great! You can         plan your Pins on Pinterest ahead of time using the Tailwind app, Twitter use                           Hootsuite and Facebook also has a scheduler. Apparently they all know how busy we             are!

  • If you’re running a shop or another small business, you need to plan ahead as well. I keep track of what crafts I want to do on my calendar as well. I make a list in the right side of calendar of the ideas I have during the day. Then, I’ll schedule them further out. I have several lists running, of course, but when I schedule one, I check it off so I know it’s coming up.
  • Don’t forget to plan your administrative work. If you have a business, you need to keep track of the finances and paperwork as well. That goes for Etsy and monetized blogs, too. You don’t want to get caught with no records of anything at tax time!
  • Set aside specific time blocks during the day for everything. This is going to look different for everyone. We all live different lives. Just make sure you block out time and stick to it as much as humanly possible. It’s important! Treat it like you would your job. To be successful and productive, you need to commit to specific times and really stick to it. You’ll be surprised at how much this helps!

I hope some of my tips have helped! I would love to hear from you! What are ways you stay productive? Ways you struggle with this? We’re here to help each other! Leave me a comment and let’s learn from each other!

It doesn’t have to be perfect!

I read the most freeing thing the other day about starting an Etsy shop! It doesn’t have to be perfect! Things don’t have to start out perfect. Nor will they ever get to ‘perfect’. At least not in your own eyes.

I tell you, when I read that I was just dumbfounded! I look at my shop and I see room for improvement. I look at my items for sale and I see room for improvement. I’m not trying to discourage you from visiting and buying, I’m just saying it was a huge weight off when I realized that’s ok.

I love the onesie I have for sale on there. I really do. It’s actually the second one I made. The first didn’t go well. But, even though I love it, I know I can improve on it. And I will. You see, if you’re completely satisfied with a craft that you made, are you going to try to stretch and make things better? Or are you just going to reproduce the same thing over and over (yawn…)? I love my site itself, but, I have more plans. It will always be growing and evolving! This blog is the same. It’ll change, too! I don’t want you to get bored!

Life itself is the same way. Am I happy? Oh, heck yes, I am!  Is my life perfect? No, no, no, no, no. Because of that, I’m always looking at ways to grow and change. That’s the fun of life, don’t you think? Finding new ways to do things and relate to people. Meeting new people, going new places. Part of my  growing is what you’re reading right now! I’m enjoying the crafting and blogging and even the marketing end of this!

If you’re just starting a blog or shop, or even if you’ve been at it a while, it’s good to step back and remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be alive! Keep improving and plugging away. And enjoy it!

I want to share a little milestone with you today! My 7 week old Etsy shop hit 100 views today!! It’s not huge, but it’s growing! Visit me on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest!

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What’s your passion?

So you’re thinking of starting a blog or a business. That’s awesome! The first thing you need to decide is what you’re going to do. What’s your main topic? What can you make a business out of? Continuing in the vein of the last post, let’s talk about your passion!  You would be completely amazed at the things you can do as a business; let alone things you can talk about. The best way to start is look inside you.

What do you love to talk about? I didn’t ask what you know a lot about because that’s not my point here. What do you enjoy having conversations about? Write that down. That’s #1. Make a short list of things that could be your answers to that question. I like helping people achieve their goals. And I like crafts. So my blog is about getting started with blogging / running a small business online, with some crafting thrown in to encourage you to visit my Etsy shop as well!

The reason I said it doesn’t have to be what you know a lot about is because half the fun I’m having with this blog is the learning along the way. Think about it, the internet is a vast wealth of information. As long as you’re getting your information from reliable sources (and not plagiarizing!), you’re learning while you’re blogging! What I mean by that is do your research. Cite your sources (I’ll write about that in the next several days or so), and don’t just copy.

What can you make a business out of? Stop and think of something you like to do that might fulfill a need. Business services, education, handmade goods, all good possibilities. It’s best to go with something you really enjoy doing. If you’re going to be doing this full time, and that’s a good possibility, then you want it to be something you really enjoy! You may already know right away what it is you want to do, or maybe you need to take some time to think about it. Either way, you’re on your way!

Fishing for ideas for your blog or shop

If you’re going to write a blog and/or start an Etsy or some other creative shop,  you’re going to need ideas galore! There are lots of places to find them, of course, not the least of which is your own creative mind! But, if you need a little help from time to time, and you will, I have some thoughts on the subject!

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The best places to come up with ideas are with your ‘competitors’. Not that you should think of them that way really. In the blogosphere, people tend to be much more collaborative than competitive. Anyway, that’s a story for another post!

Follow bloggers who blog about the same things you do. Not to steal from them, of course, but to prompt ideas and to learn. If you’re just starting out you have a lot to learn about blogging and blogs are the best source of information.

Also, read books on your subject of interest. Become an expert on your subject. If you’re a DIYer or crafter, walk people through your process of making something.

Need ideas for what you want to sell? Peruse Etsy and other handmade websites. Again, not to steal ideas, but to prompt your own. I’ve seen so many things that have given me ideas. I haven’t had time to make them all! (You’ll eventually see some on my Etsy shop. Hopefully soon!)

The last idea I have for you is shopping. Yep, shopping. I see things all the time that I know I can make. I even have my sister doing it! The best thing is to go home and make them! They look even better when you make them yourself!

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back in a day or so! In the meantime, visit me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter as well!

Random blogging tips

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Just some random thoughts…..

As I promised, today’s blog is just some random things I’ve learned over the past month or so. Nothing heavy, just stuff! Let’s dig in!

  • Get organized! Download a planner or, better yet, use an old fashioned paper one! That’s what I use. I can write down thoughts at random. More importantly, it’s a place to plan out your blogs so you’re not just filling in. You can plan what you’re going to say.
  • Check into affiliate programs if you’re looking to make money with your blog. If you search ‘affiliate programs’ on Pinterest you will find a plethora of ideas!
  • Take a break every now and then! Don’t let blogging consume your life! I mean even when you lay down to sleep (I struggle with this one…). Put it out of your mind. Don’t let your blog be the last thing you think of before you go to bed. Blogging won’t be any fun if it eats up your life. And it could.
  • If you’re looking to make money…don’t start on a free blogging site. Seriously. Look back to one of my first posts. I’m paying for that as we speak. Yes, I own my domain name, but until it’s been up for 60 days, I can’t move it to another host and I can’t have affiliate programs on it. Know the difference between wordpress.com (free) and wordpress.org (self hosted). You want .org in this case!
  • Don’t ignore social media. Make a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram…etc site for your blog. It’ll help pull in readers.
  • If you’re making money on your blog or even if your blog is a DIY themed site, save your receipts. This is a small business and you deserve to take every tax benefit you can!
  • Include pictures on your blog. This is crucial when sharing posts. A picture attracts attention!
  • Do your research on SEO. What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization is the fancy term for keyword searches. Google SEO (see what I did there??) and  you’ll find a lot of great info to help you choose the best words to get your blog high up on the search returns!
  • Last, but far from least…don’t give up! Growth may seem slow. Actually, I’m sure it will be at first. Hang in there! If you’re getting a couple new followers a week, or even just one, you’re growing! And even if you go a few weeks with no growth…still hang in there! It’ll happen. Just go back over SEO and make sure you’re using the best keywords. Stay the course!

Thanks for following me! I’ll see you in the next couple days! Don’t forget,my shop is growing, so stop on by! And of course…check out the social media sites! You’ll see me there, too!

Off to a good start!

So, yesterday was my ‘grand opening’ as such on my Etsy site! Today I had my first sale! I had a rough day at my ‘day job’ yesterday so I didn’t have a chance to post here. This has been a fun but busy week. I’ve been busy crafting and planning and as you know, designing my new logo!

Vase logo

Here’s what I’ve learned this week: Starting an online business is a LOT of work! I have a lot more crafting to do to get more items uploaded to the shop. Oh! I almost forgot to tell you! I’m on Facebook here and on Twitter here! Join me! Like, and follow and all that stuff!

As I said, I’m up to my ears in crafts so check the Etsy site often! I’ll be back here tomorrow with just some random blogging tips!

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment and let me know what you’d like me to talk about! Blogging, Etsy, marketing yourself…anything that has to do with starting and running an online business!

Pretty it up a bit!

Well, I’ve had this blog and Etsy shop  for a month now. Time to make them fancy. I signed up and got them going before I did all the research I wanted. I’m still doing some but I want to get everything ready for a big Grand Opening of the shop! I have big plans and I’m crafting like crazy to get it all ready.

To that end, I’ve decided to do my own branding. I’m so excited about this! I want it to look professional! I really can’t wait for you to see it. I’ll let you know a few days in advance of when I do the grand opening. I’m also on Facebook but there is nothing there yet. I’m waiting to get the graphics package done. I’ve actually done a few logos, etc in the past and considered doing it for a living but it’s kind of stressful for me so I put that aside

This has been such a fun process.I think when I have my first sale in the shop or advertising on here I may lose my flippin’ mind!

Everything I’ve read suggests a professional designer for  your branding. I was hesitant to to spend the money but I did seriously consider it and even contacted a designer. I really want the shop and blog to be successful so I vacillated on this a lot. I finally decided to give it a try and came up with one I liked. But not enough. So, I tried again. I came up with this: Vase logo

I love it. I think it’s perfect! It’s exactly what I wanted!

Now, I have to say, I wouldn’t suggest trying it on your own if you’re not comfortable with the idea. There are a lot of great designers on Etsy who would be happy to help you create your branding package!

***I have to say as a disclaimer, I wrote this on Monday and scheduled it to post today. At that time I was sure I was going to go with a designer and that’s what this post said when it went live today. This is the edited version! ***

I’m glad you’re here following along on my adventure. Please subscribe or follow me to keep up!

Happy blogging!

~Nancy