Blogs

How To Balance Working From Home

Running a successful business is always difficult but running a successful business from home is often much harder. The idea of working from home has its definite perks: creating your own schedule, seeing your children, working in your pajamas and no make-up but the unforeseen cons can often be overwhelming for some people.

 I’m a mom of three boys (ages 12, 3 and 9 months) I go into the office once a week and work the rest of the time from home, this includes any of my many freelance projects. My coworkers (ages 3 and 9 months) don’t always understand the meaning of “I need to get my work done.” And they often like to create their own schedule whenever they see fit.

 Structure and organization is a huge part of working from home. If you plan to work from home you have to be organized. I once considered myself as having OCD but since having kids I’ve thrown A LOT of it out the window! I do find my natural obsessive compulsiveness to be a blessing. As long as I channel this in the right direction it helps me balance my crazy personal life with my business.

 Here’s a glimpse into my daily schedule so you can get a grasp of what I’m up against:

6 AM – Drinking my cup of coffee, eating my bagel, watching the news and checking my emails via my phone, as I wait for the first child to wake.

 6:30 -7 AM – Normally my 9 month old is waking up and I can ponder any news or projects I need to work on that day as I tend to him.

 8 AM – My oldest is off to school and I’m ready to begin working. I log onto my computers and check all other business emails that I didn’t get on my phone. Anything urgent gets done around this time.

 9 AM – Playtime with my mini coworkers

 10 AM – Baby’s first nap = any other non-pertinent projects can be worked on during this time.

 11 AM – 1 PM – Time to start prepping lunch, eating lunch and more playtime

 2 – 4 PM – Baby’s 2nd nap = finish working on non-pertinent projects or anything else that may have come through during lunch.

 4 – 9 PM – This is normally family time, making dinner, eating, playing outside if we can, watching movies…you get the picture

 9 – 11 PM – Any projects that actually require a lot of thought or research such as blog writing. This is also when I catch up on all social media and try to make new connections. I plan out what will be on my agenda for the next day so I’m not scrambling around wasting what little time I have available.

 I also make it a point to schedule out any social media posts once a week. There are a lot of different apps available for this but I love Hootsuite. Hootsuite makes scheduling so easy and allows me to free up my time throughout the week. I still post periodically when I find something cool I want to retweet or post to Facebook and Instagram but Hootsuite is my once a week stop to ensure I’m getting something out. It also allows me to run reports and see how my posts are doing among my followers which is a great value for me.

 Phew, by about 11 PM I’m exhausted and ready to call it a night so I can wake up and do it all over again the next day. If you ask my husband he won’t agree that I get this much sleep through the night but hey, this is what I strive for!

 Do you work from home? What’s your day like? Or if you want to work from home but have some hesitations let me know, leave some comments and I’d love to discuss them with you!

5 Ways To Run A Successful Etsy Shop

For the past five years I’ve managed to successfully run my Etsy shop of hand knitted and crocheted items. Now success is different to each person but to me I maintained a constant stream of sales and I managed to double my income each year for five years straight. This past year I actually got to the point where I found it difficult to keep up with holiday sales. All of my customers were very sweet and amazing to work with but at the end of the day I found my shop to be too much for me to continue running it as a side job. I recently decided to step back and leave it as a hobby and only sell ready made items on there. I’m not closing my shop by any means but simply can’t keep up with the demand.

After having such an amazing season I decided to share some of my insight with all of the other Etsy and online shop owners out there in hopes of helping each of you grow your business. Here are a few tips on how I managed my shop to the point that I couldn’t keep up.

 High Quality Photography

When shopping online images and photographs are very important. You can’t simply pick up an item and feel it so you need the second best thing, great photography. A photo can say a million words and having a crisp clear image is very important in portraying this.

 Most shops like to have bright white backgrounds to make their product images really pop but that’s a personal preference. If you want a black background go for it. Just make sure your background is complementing your products and your shop. My shop for example has natural fiber and eco-friendly accessories. If you look at my shop the majority of my primary images were taken outside or on wooden boards which nicely compliment my idea of being eco-friendly.

 Awesome Product Tags

In order to create great product tags you must think like a customer. One of the mistakes that I made early on was with my tags, I was creating tags with terms that I use when describing my products but the average person looking to buy a cute baby hat might not know or care about the name of the stitch I used to create it. I learned to step back and think like the customer. What would the customer type into the search field? Those are the terms that you want to use as your 13 tags to describe your product.

Clear Product Descriptions

Along with photography this is the second most important part of selling online. Clients often can’t see every part of the item that they’re interested in purchasing even in the best photographs. The product description fills in any blanks and questions that the customer might have before making their purchase. If you use a special technique or used a special material while making it be sure to include that in your description. Customers shopping on Etsy love hearing the story behind the products that they’re buying and are often willing to spend a little more for an item with meaning.

Make your customer feel comfortable with you and your shop. When a customer see’s you as a friend or family member they’re often willing to make a purchase with you. When they understand why you created your shop or the special methods behind the products they feel like there’s a bond that has been formed. They begin to feel like they know you after reading about you and your passion of creating wonderful, one-of–a-kind pieces. Take advantage of the About section of your shop, include photos of you using or wearing your items. By putting a face with the name or shop you end up personalizing it even more.

Excellent Customer Service

Never leave your clients hanging. One of my main goals was to have clear communication with my customers at all time. I love creating custom pieces and often had to communicate with my customers to make sure the pieces were made exactly as they imagine. I always responded within 24 hours but ideally would respond within the hour. I know when I’m making a purchase, especially a custom order, I’m waiting impatiently by my phone waiting for that email to come in with more information. The suspense kills me and I don’t want to put my customers through that. I know that they’re probably waiting on the other end and want to get to them as quickly as possible. Just remember the golden rule and put yourself in your customers shoes and treat them as you wish to be treated.

These are my top 5 tips on running a successful Etsy shop, or any online shop for that matter. Please share other tips that have helped launch your shop!

Exciting Announcement & New Website!

 

I’m so excited to make a few announcements about my business plan for the year! It’s been roughly seven months since my youngest was born and during that time I’ve done a lot of contemplating. The past year has been wonderful for me, my family and my business. Things have grown exponentially and with growth we often need to do a little restructuring. During the last seven months I’ve had some time to think about where I want my business to go and I think I have finally figured things out.

Although I love knitting and crocheting and have been honing my art since high school I found it hard to keep up with my Etsy shop this past winter along with everything else I’m doing. I loved all of my customers and everyone was so kind to work with but I think I need to keep my knitting as a hobby and only offer in stock items rather than custom orders. I intend to continue creating and making one of a kind, natural fiber accessories but must taper back a little.
By placing less time on my Etsy shop I’m going to have the time and energy to focus on marketing and branding for my current and prospective clients. I’m very excited for this venture and where things are going to take me over the next year and beyond. With this exciting announcement I have also created a new website to launch things. This new site will go live this Monday, I hope everyone can take a look around and see what we’ll have to offer. Let me know what you think of the site and if you know anyone that could benefit from working with me please send them my way.
Thank you to everyone who has loved and supported my business over the years. I couldn’t be where I’m at today without each and everyone of you!

Special Occasion Prints Now Available In My Shop!

Getting ready for back to school? Or know someone who just had a baby and you’re looking for the perfect gift? Maybe you would just like to treat yourself with a little something to remember your special day!

I am now offering a handful of typographic prints in my shop to help you remember the many special occasions in your life.

It all started with my baby fever and nesting antics! I created some birth announcements (whether I’ll use them or not will be a different story but they’re made none the less) and from there decided to create beautiful prints and posters. These prints would be perfect printed up and hanging in a nursery or child’s bedroom. They are primarily text base and include all of the pertinent information about the wonderful day you brought another life into the world.

FirstDayOfSchoolFrom there I realized the back to school season is just around the corner. Eeek! I cannot believe it, I’m sure my oldest isn’t too excited about that fact! But it inspired me to create custom prints to celebrate your little one’s first day. Whether they’re going into preschool, kindergarten, 1st grade or higher I can customize a poster for them. This is the perfect memory piece to take a photo with. It will include their name, the school grade they’re going into, the date and whatever their favorites are, it’s fully customizable!

Even if you’d like your sign to include something additional or would like to swap out one thing for another, contact me and we can work out any custom orders.

All of my prints are available via digital format and can be in your inbox in as few as 2 business days! A few of the prints are also available in a hardcopy print form and can be mailed within 3-5 business days.

Please check out my shop to see the new items available and as always let me know your thoughts, I love hearing what others think!

P.S. This will probably be the last post for a little while, I’ll be taking a short maternity leave beginning next week but I will try to update my Facebook page with any cute little pics of our newest addition along the way. I’ll be back in a few weeks!

Natural Fiber Hats for Fall

My poor blog has been really neglected over the past few weeks, it’s been one of those things of, “oh crap I need to do that!” and it just gets pushed down on the list. I’ve had a number of things to get done before my newest little bundle of joy arrives next week! I think knowing the actual date that the baby will be arriving has changed my perspective of things and it’s not just a surprise for me to keep putting things off and thinking that I still have plenty of time. Now I feel like there’s a deadline and I have to get everything in order. Wrapping up a number of projects, nesting for the baby and trying to make a few new items for my shop.

Originally I was going to wait and add all of my new fall and winter items in September, however, I’ve been getting a little concerned about my recovery time, juggling a baby and a toddler and all of my other day to day duties so I’ve decided to start offering my new items now! Yay!!

adulthat
Adult wool and alpaca fiber winter hat

I must say I really love these new items, right now they are all hats but they are all made of natural fibers. They come in gorgeous hues, super soft in texture and just scream rustic, autumn days. This is exactly what I was hoping to turn my shop into so I’m really excited to get these added. Right now they are available in wool and alpaca yarns, some of which were locally spun! I have one new adult hat and four children’s hats available right now and hoping to make a few more before fall but we shall see what the coming weeks hold for me.

 

I have three new hats in my shop as of right now, hopefully the last two will be added in the next day or two. Please check them out and let me know your thoughts! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

orangebaby
Baby Wool Hat
greenbaby
Baby Alpaca Fiber Hat

Just a little side note, after next Wednesday I will be on a short leave so processing times will be slightly longer than noted on my individual shop items. I will get everything processed as quickly as possible and plan on being back to normal by September, just in time for the holiday rush to begin!

Niagara Falls Getaway

These weeks keep ticking by, I can hardly believe I only have 7 weeks left before baby #3 arrives (or darn near 7 weeks). Somehow I always end up putting off the most important things for last. Hoping to register with the hospital in the next week or two and need to pick out a good car seat in the next week or two as well. My husband may kill me if I don’t do all of the obvious things before the baby arrives J In the back of my mind I still wonder what crazy thing will happen with this birth, I always have to be up to some crazy antic on my delivery day!

With only seven weeks to go we decided to do one last hurrah with the family before the baby arrives and we’re all stuck indoors for a few months. We chose something close to home but someplace we haven’t really been to or haven’t been to in a long while. Something that would be family friendly and would require little walking or strain from the preggo woman! So we chose to go to Niagara Falls!

falls1

I was probably about 2 or 3 when I went so I obviously don’t remember anything from that trip and my husband was just a child when he went so his memories were a little foggy as well. The falls were only about 3 ½ hours from our house so it was perfect for driving with a toddler.

family

Now I wish I could say a good time was had by all but apparently 11427237_10103498560299144_7925372029017030814_nmy water shy toddler did not enjoy parts of our trip. I know he’s not a huge fan of water, he’s also not a huge fan of being around people but I thought this was a low key event and it wasn’t even as busy as I thought it would be. Let’s just say there was nothing but tears for the entire Maid of the Mist tour and Cave of the Winds.

drewMy 11 year old however had a blast. He LOVED the two events that his younger brother hated. He was soaking wet and had to go back to the hotel to change but he loved every minute of it and just stood in falls, feeling the cool water rush against him. No raincoat was going to protect that kid!

Some of the other exhibits left us less than impressed but the park itself was beautiful and for the most part we had a good time. We probably could have used a few more hours there to finish viewing everything but all in all we did everything we initially planned to do and had fun.

overlook

Now we are back home, where I can sleep in the comforts of my own bed, with my clean carpets. I think we can all say that I my least favorite part of any trip is staying in the hotel. I don’t like the idea germ filled beds and carpets and nasty bathrooms that you don’t know who was in before you or if the cleaning staff properly sanitizes things. If I wasn’t 8 months pregnant I would have preferred a tent on the dirt ground, I could at least walk around barefoot there or let my kids run around and play without freaking out J

Shameless Self Promotion Techniques

Every small business faces this challenge from time to time, how do you promote your business without feeling pushy or overwhelming. Nobody wants to be the stereotypical used car salesman but you still need to get your voice out there for people to know that you exist.

The first step to any good promotion is knowing who your audience and target market is. You have a great product or service in hand, now imagine people purchasing or using this item. Who is the primary purchaser? Do you have cool new tech gear that might be perfect for millennials? Perhaps it’s something geared towards young moms or for middle-aged men. Although it may be great if all of the above were purchasing your item you really need to focus on one main category to be your focal point.

When you try to make everyone happy and try to promote your product or service to everyone at once you will have problems truly engaging any one person or group of people. If you customize your promotions to a primary group you will begin to lure them in and make them feel special, as if you’re speaking directly to them. Do you remember going to concerts and feeling like the lead singer is singing that ballad to you? That’s exactly how you want your audience to feel, like you’re singing directly to them. The outliers will then purchase on an as needed basis but your core group will be the avid followers that your business needs to succeed.

This core group of purchasers may also become influencers for the outliers. When you have a primary group of people intrigued in your item or service they will be more inclined to spread the word to their friends, family and peers. There is no better advertising than word of mouth.

Once you know who your target audience is you’ll be able to drill down and figure out the best method of reaching them. Does this group of people live by their cell phone and use social media day in and day out? Or perhaps doing a press release or advertising in the local paper might get in front of your audience a little bit easier. Many news stations are often looking to feature small businesses or current events and you might be able to land a spot on the morning news to promote yourself.

After figuring out how and where you’re going to promote yourself you’re going to want to practice that elevator pitch of yours. Grab your supportive friends and family members and practice on them. Have them ask you questions or have them ask you what you do for a living or what you sell so you can practice your perfect pitch. You don’t want to come across a guru in your industry and then find yourself tripping over your words. You need your pitch to come out fluidly and confidently. This is your dream after all you should know this like the back of your hand!

If you’re still finding yourself struggling and need some help or would prefer to just remove the idea of promotion and media writing off of your plate contact me and I’d be happy to help work out any other kinks you may have!

The Art of Word Clouds

Word clouds can be a fun and simple way to5_Team_12x12 get your message across. If you’re not familiar with exactly what a word cloud is it’s a series of words, typically referencing the same topic, placed together in varying font sizes and colors and moving in multiple directions. The organic nature of a word cloud creates a graphical image that makes the piece feel more like artwork than a written message.

I recently had the pleasure of creating a series of word cloud posters be placed throughout an office to portray the core values of the team. They act as quick little reminders of who the company is and where they want to be. Instead of placing all of the text into paragraph form that most people will end up disregarding the idea of creating word clouds for each of the values was formed so now employees will see keywords as they’re passing through different areas of the office and will be reminded of the ultimate goal.

Here’s an example of the word clouds that I made for a small business. The final pieces were printed on canvas and turned out even better than I imagined! It’s always like Christmas when your prints show up and you get to unwrap each one of them!

wordcloud

If you’re looking to create word cloud art for your office contact me for a free consultation!

Memorial Day Weekend

What a beautiful weekend we had here in Northeastgarden Ohio, the weather was perfect and we managed to get a lot of our house chores completed or pretty close to completed. Our garden is pretty darn close to finished, we just need a gate door to keep our deer out but my husband should have that finished up in no time. At least our crops are in and we can just sit back and wait for the fruit to start appearing. Oh and did I mention we also have a few flowers blooming on our pepper plants already? We’ll be having some fresh peppers very soon!!

tree1We also had a huge maple tree dropped last week and were busy moving all of the branches and logs to the back of our yard so it’s not such an eyesore for the neighbors. Still have a lot of work to do there but made a pretty good size dent in our pile.

We finished off our weekend with the Memorial Day parade and some homemade pizza. Yumm!! Now we’re back to the grind, no more physical labor around the house but back to the mental work at the office!

scouts
I hope everyone else had a lovely weekend, I saw many pics of Memorial Day parades throughout the country on Facebook and even a handful of barbecues going on. I’d love to hear about your weekend festivities so please feel free to share!

Quick and Easy Key Lime Pie Recipe

By Sunday night I found myself sitting on the couch realizing that it wasn’t Saturday anymore! Where did the weekend go? It was another busy weekend of preparing the garden for our little sprouts, so many little seedlings and plants are lining our deck right now. All at different stages, we just planted more seeds this weekend so we would have a nice little cycle of crops coming due without the overabundance and wondering what are we going to do with all of these. Garden should hopefully be complete this week, fence and all, and ready for the plants this weekend. I also made another 5 gallons of laundry detergent and got all of those placed into their containers, ready for a few months of laundry all for about 98 cents! I’m so thrifty it’s scary 🙂

pieI think I topped off my weekend by making a wonderful key lime pie! I made my first key lime pie about 13 or 14 years ago and it was not very edible. Never attempted the pie again until this weekend and now that I’ve made it and ‘taste tested’ it I really wonder what I did to that first one because it’s one of the easiest pies I’ve ever made!

We went to the market Sunday morning and bought about a dozen limes for $2, couldn’t beat that deal so I came home and used about half of those to make my pie. Later this week we’re planning on some cilantro lime rice (inspired by Chipotle’s oh so yummy rice!) and I think I may finish off those limes by making some lime bars. Feels like summer!

Here’s the recipe that I found for my very easy and yummy key lime pie filling:

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • Zest of 5 limes
  • About ½ C lime juice (5 limes)
  • 14 oz of sweetened condensed milk

Wisk the 4 egg yolks and lime zest together for a minute or limestwo until everything is well incorporated, slowly wisk in the sweetened condensed milk. Once the mixture looks smooth, wisk in the lime juice until everything is fully incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let set for 30 minutes while you prepare your crust.

I made my own graham cracker crust but you could use a store bought crust as well. My crust consisted of about 8 graham crackers that I ran through the food processor until they were finely crushed. I then added 5 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar and pulsed the mixture together for a couple of seconds until mixture was incorporated. Pressed everything out into my pie pan and baked at 325 for about 15 minutes. While the crust was still hot I poured in my lime filling and baked for about another 20 minutes at 325. Let cool then chill in fridge prior to serving. Mmmm delicious! Even my picky 11 year old loved it!