Life is CRAZY Sometimes!

I’ve been on ‘vacation’ for the past week and I go back to work tomorrow. This is the first chance I’ve had to actually post something here! That makes me sad. However, I’ve spent a lot of time reading some books that I want to talk about on here. One in particular on the book of Ruth, but also a couple others that are intended to help with blogging for Christians and inspirational writing. We’ll see how all that goes! On my list of things I wanted to get done this week was to write several posts and schedule them out some. Yeah, nope. Didn’t happen. I did, you may notice, if you’ve been here before, upgrade my site and change the theme.

As I mentioned in my last post, some cool things have been happening as far as teaching. My small group leader has asked me to teach at our retreat in the fall! That is a big honor for me and I’m very excited! So, if you’re a praying person…keep that in your prayers!

Also, Alpha will be starting at church next week and I’m going to be a table leader again! I haven’t for a while because of work and location. It has always been on a weeknight and that’s just too much for me these days, with work being exhausting. It was also downtown for one session so that would have put me home pretty late. They’ve moved it to Saturday afternoons at the church (5 minutes away) so I’m totally available and really excited!

Back to life being crazy…yeah. What can I say? I’ve felt so out of control lately. Like everyone else is running my life-and I don’t mean God. He’s allowed. People pull me in this direction or that and I haven’t any time to get things done that I want to do (such as this). I’ve battled depression my whole life and I swear it’s felt like it’s been winning lately. As I type that, I stop and think about the things God is doing in my life and wonder how I can feel depressed. But honestly, I know as well as anyone that depression doesn’t always make sense, nor does it always coincide with life events-although they do tend to have some baring on it. I believe Satan tries to use depression/anxiety to derail me from God’s cause. I’m holding dearly to that fact while I wade through this current storm.

We’ll talk more about that later! Just glad to be back on here and I’m PLANNING on being here a lot more!

(oh-and for my craft and Silhouette friends-my next post is going to be related to that!)

Love to all of you!

~ Nancy

Subscribe to the newsletter!

Subscribe

So, today we’re going to talk about building an email list for your blog! I’m sure you’ve seen the pop-up inviting you to subscribe to my newsletter when you come to my site. This is one (and the best) way to build your email list! Why do you want one? Well, I’ll tell you!

Having a list of subscribers gives you a list of people who are interested in what you have to say or sell. You can direct sales right to them, keep them up to date on what’s going on, and give sneak previews of what’s to come! In turn, that will increase your sales or site traffic! Any good tutorial or blog on ‘how to grow your blog’ will tell you, contact is everything. EVERY. THING.And the best way to do that is to build an email list and keep in CONTACT with your followers…but never ever spam them or overwhelm them.(I’ll talk about that in a minute)  I know many of you get my blog in your email everytime I post and I thank you for that! But, just like me, you want your followers to be engaged with you.

Part of blogging…a big part, actually, is building community around a common interest. The blogging community is generally a fun and welcoming place. I’ve gotten to know a few bloggers that I follow and I feel like I know a few that follow me. One good way is through commenting, of course. I love getting comments on here, so don’t be shy! The more you get to know your followers, the more likely they are to share your blog or shop with their friends! That sounds good to me! And even better is that through commenting, your followers can get to know each other. Community!

Part of community is staying in touch through a newsletter. Mine comes out once a month. Around the first of the month. Included are tutorials for some of the crafts in my Etsy shop, blogging and small business tips, answers to questions you may have, as well as a coupon code from time to time! Also, in the September and October newsletters there will be sneak peeks of my fall, Thanksgiving, and Christmas items! AND….a chance to pre-order some of them….PLUS…the only chance to get some of them personalized!

See what I did there? I’m giving you, my followers, perks for signing up! That helps get subscribers, which builds community, which is what we want in the first place. I will let you know right here that the FASTEST way to lose subscribers is to spam them or constantly send nonsense. I promise you that my newsletter is all you’re signing up for UNLESS there is a major product release or a special sale. Those won’t happen often. Most of your email from me will be the newsletter, unless of course you ask me something 😉

We’ll talk more about email lists and newsletters again in future posts. In the meantime…..

Refresh this page and sign up in the pop up! If that doesn’t work, use the contact me form!

Thanks!

~ Nancy

Organizing the craft room

Hi there! I’ve had a little time this week to get my craft area set up a little more. Organize it, I should say. It’s not there yet but it’s much better. Yesterday I bought a white 5 shelf bookcase with 4 cubbies in the bottom. That took me about 2 hours to put together. No big mistakes and no cuss words, so I’d say that went well!

I moved toys from a ‘toybox’ (storage bin) to a cabinet all their own; put the items I have finished and listed on Etsy up on the top shelf of the new bookcase; found new homes for some tools and various other things as well. I still have ‘blanks’ to put away. Good times!

I also designed the shirt for G to have his picture taken in each year. It has Class of 2029 (oy vey) on the front, and his name and room for handprints for each year on the back. I need to pick up heat transfer vinyl for that tomorrow. I was at the craft store today and it didn’t cross my mind. Until I was almost home. Isn’t that always the way?

So, organizing. I love to organize things.I have to say that the disarray in my dining / toy / craft area has been a bee in my bonnet for a while! I’m feeling much better about it. Like I said, it’s not there yet, but one step at a time. I’m trying to keep my teeny, but alive and slowly growing, business organized, too. And it is growing. I’ve had a LOT more views on here and especially on my Etsy site lately. I’m thrilled about that! It’s not stagnant, so that means it’s growing! Yay! I signed up for the free trial on crafybase.com to see how that goes. It’s basically an inventory and financials tracking system for craft businesses. I’ll let you know how that works out. As I have mentined in the past, I schedule my pins for Pinterest through Tailwind and that has helped me so much! I can sit here and watch TV and find pins I like or whatever and schedule them and not have to think about them again. I love it! I need to start scheduling Facebook as well. Honestly, I have no excuse there. I can schedule as I write! It’s right there! Oh well. I always plan to write 2 or 3 blogs ahead as well, but I’m not to that yet either! I’ll get there, too!

I guess I still have some work to do! To that end, I’m going to go take pictures of my new listings! I hope to have them online tonight!

Thanks for stopping by! Don’t forget to follow, pin, like, etc! I’ll be looking for you! Oh! And sign up for my newsletter! I’ll send you a coupon for 10% off anything in my shop and the newsletter will have lots of valuable blog and Etsy tips!

Catch you later!

~Nancy20160703_233934203_iOS

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 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!

100 views