MY GOALS FOR MAY…

Well, after yesterday’s post about the conclusion of April and the evaluation of my April goals, today brings a post about what I plan to accomplish in May.  My focus will be shifting a little because Anthony and I have made some changes in our personal plans – we plan to put our little house on the market this summer, which moves our plan ahead by 8 months!  So, I will be making some time for home improvement projects as well.  Here they are:

1. Blog daily.

2. Make and list new items – at least one new item daily.  Preferably 3 new listings or renewals per day.

3. Do at least two craft shows.

4. Complete outside landscaping projects, finish renovating sun room and laundry room, and begin bathroom renovation.

5. Post in the forums three times a day to promote my Etsy shop.

6. Continue networking to build relationships with other Etsy sellers and potential buyers, which includes visiting other blogs and posting comments regularly (at least twice a week)

7. Send, “thank you” cards to past customers and include some sort of goodie.  Send emails out to past customers with an incentive to buy during the month of May.

8. Obtain 475 hearts on Etsy

9. Profit more from my crafts than I have any other month thus far…even if it is only by one dollar more.

10. Purchase supplies and materials needed, and set up my own metal smithing space at home.

What are your goals?  As we share our goals with one another, we are more likely to achieve them!  It also helps us think of other areas we could improve upon.  🙂  Hopefully, by listing and sharing our goals, we will see increased cash flow, business success and happiness!


 

Advertisements

Bright, NEW MONTHLY GOALS…April Evaluation.

April is coming to an end and it begs that I evaluate my April Goals and contemplate new ones for May.  My April goals were to:

1. Get 350 hearts on Etsy (Check!  Accomplished today!)

2. Reach a total of 30 sales…still have 7 to go…anyone want to buy?  Go to my shop now!  (NO MINIMUM PURCHASE…BUY before April ends and get a FREE PAIR OF EARRINGS!)

3. Drive more traffic to my blog…sporadic.  I tried some new things and although I still have traffic, it is up and down.  Some days I have TONS and other days nothing…I suppose most blogs have that though – up and down.  I’m going to keep at it, but am open to any suggestions to keep traffic flowing.  🙂

4. Get something in a new local boutique – one shop has agreed to carry my wine glasses! (check!)

5. Make new items every day and post new items in my shop regularly.  (I consistently made new items, but was not as consistent with listing as I would have liked.)

6. Post in the forums, blog every day and stay active on Etsy, building relationships and getting to know other crafters. (Well, I almost blogged every day and stayed active on Etsy, though not as much in the evenings as I used to.)  

7. Gain as much exposure as I can. (check!)

Special news…
  I had a really nice thing happen yesterday!  If you follow my blog, you may remember Shannon from greenbelts.  Well, yesterday, Shannon had the honor and privilege of being selected as the featured artist in Etsy’s “Etsy Success Stories!” AND she wore my Lemon Drop earrings in the pictures that they used!!! 

 Yippee!!!  She also included my new “Jonquil Delight” earrings as a favorite of hers below the article!  How sweet is she?  Very!  🙂  So, it goes to show how important it is to develop relationships!  It’s all about networking!


So, for my May goals…I’m giving them thought, with regard that I will need to embrace the challenges that warm weather will brings.  I’d like to hear your goals!  Let’s help one another take off!  =)

 

Etsy Color Picker…

  Today, I want to talk about a really cool tool on Etsy.  It’s Etsy’s “Color Picker.  Why might you want to know about it?  Well, it’s perfect when searching for gifts if you want a certain color, or perhaps you’re planning a wedding or a party and you have a color theme, or perhaps you’re composing a treasury.  Whatever the occasion, you should know about this TIME-SAVING searching tool!  Here’s what it looks like when you have arrived… 

The COLOR PICKER…REALLY too cool for its own good!  Find items by COLOR.  Visually select the color you are searching for and it shows you items on Etsy that match your color selection.  It’s great because you don’t need to know the name of a color; you just slide your mouse along the color bar and watch the color bubbles until you hit the color you’re looking for… (let’s say I’m looking for purple – here’s what it would look like)

and here is how it shows results:

you can choose to see more of the same color, or move your mouse again and select a different color – maybe something complimentary (good for if your doing a treasury!)  Example…I’ll proceed and look for teal colored items.  Color picker will still show my purple items and then will show the teal ones…

It can be a real time-saver if you are searching for an item of a particular color!

     So, how do you find it and how do you go about using it?  Well, go to the Etsy web site and on the left hand side of the screen, you will see the navigation bar that is titled, “ways to shop“.  Select “colors” from the navigation bar, and viola!, you’re there!  

To make it even easier, while you’re at my blog, you can just click here to play.  🙂  So, if you haven’t already discovered it, which is completely possible because Etsy has SO much to discover, you should definitely make time to play with the color picker tool!   

Date Nights with RedBox

So, Anthony and I love renting movies and one day, the Lord above sent us a gift in a big, redbox.  🙂

 If you aren’t familiar with redbox, it’s a DVD vending machine and they are popping up everywhere.  Locally, we have them at McDonalds, but I know in Pennsylvania, they have them in grocery stores too.  Anthony and I love redbox!  If you don’t rent movies all the time, they are super!  Even if you rent movies on a semi-frequent basis, they are a great alternative to having an account with Blockbuster on line or NetFlix. 

You can go online to review movies and reserve them online, or you can drive right up to the box and rent on the spot.

The rental process is easy.  redbox has a super easy, user-friendly, touch screen

You select whether you are renting or returning  
and it walks you right through the process until you swipe your debit/credit card to pay.  Oh!  And it’s only $1.00 to rent any DVD!  Rentals are good for 24 hours and if you decide to keep them, it’s only $1.00 a day for each day you keep it.  Returns are simple.  You take your DVD back to ANY redbox location and slip the slick DVD case with clear instructions, right in the slot provided.   

     redbox will even send you email confirmations of rentals and returns, just so you feel extra secure.
The best part is that, when you set up an account with redbox, you can rent movies for FREE quite frequently, with the codes they give you in your email or even as a text message to your phone!  Interested?  Go here.  It’s a super deal and if you like watching movies and haven’t tried it out – hop to your local redbox and get started or you can click here to visit their site!

We rented Juno  the other night and LOVED IT!  It is a comedy/drama/romance movie that really hits so many good spots, it’s hard not to like.  It’s about a girl and how she deals with the life event of an unplanned pregnancy.  It won an oscar for best writing and it truly is EXCELLENTLY written, funny and just plain wonderful!  I highly recommend it if you have not yet seen!  View the trailer here.  If you are already a Juno fan, Etsy seller, scissorkix, has these great Juno themed, pinback buttons!
  Click here to view the listing.  They’re only $4.00 for all three!

 

Now, for our Creative Journey : Before this task, I ask – are you still doing your mental dumping?  If not, make time to start it.  They will help to reduce your stress levels, and will improve your clarity and creativity!  Does anyone have a poem or quote to share?  If you’re following along, please let me know!  🙂

Creative Journey Task (Day 5):  Take a walk for inspiration today.  Take in all that you can of the details that surround you.  Open up ALL of your senses.  LOOK, SMELL, TOUCH, LISTEN, BREATH.  Let those things inspire you.  Think of something to create that will reflect your walk and make it.  It could be as simple or as ornate as you like.  (I’m off to take my walk now.  I’ll share my creation tomorrow.)

When Business is Slow…

I’ve been in the Etsy forums and have read some comments and seen some bad attitudes about slowing sales.  The warm weather pulls people away from their computers and out to enjoy the sun.  It’s just a fact of life.  Complaining about it doesn’t help bring anyone business.  So, what can a crafter do to fight the change in the market?  If you’re feeling a slump in sales, whether due to the economy or the warm weather, or perhaps it’s just a slump…here’s a list with a some things I suggest you try, and please feel free to post additional ideas!

1. Sell at Craft Shows
     If people are out and about, where are they going to do their shopping for the items you sell?  Generally, farmer’s markets, boutiques and gift shops – places where they can walk around in the warm air!  Here’s a good link if you’re just getting started with your crafting business and craft shows.

2. Add Products and Services
     Try to add new things that compliment what you already have.  Offer more of what your target customers might be looking for.  What don’t you have, that you COULD offer, that would make people leave your shop and look elsewhere?  Make it and list. 

3. Raise the Customer Service Bar
You may already provide good customer service, but can you do better?  Can you offer a little more?  For example, can you ship items out faster?  Follow up with customers to say, “Thank you” if you aren’t already.  Remember that PEOPLE TALK, and if you provide EXCELLENT products AND superior service, the word-of-mouth that it generates can be invaluable!

4. Keep a POSITIVE attitude! 
     I don’t care how slow things get – always, ALWAYS keep a positive attitude and don’t tell people if you’re stressed and things are going bad because you hope that they’ll take pity.  People want to be on the WINNING team…not the losing one.  You need to assure them, that YOU are the winner!  Things always get better, so keep your chin up if things get slow and, as my mother always says, “just keep plugging away at it.”  🙂

5. Expand
Take your skills everywhere you can!  Can you teach a class?  Can you volunteer to show some skills at a local high school or community group or church?  Even if you’re not getting paid, you’re gaining exposure, which every business needs! 

6. Time for a Tune-Up!
So, business is slow?  See it as an opportunity to focus on the things you normally do not make time for when you’re busy!  Reevaluate your goals, reorganize, update mailing lists, evaluate your advertising – is there anything new you can do?  Are there ways you can cut costs?  

7. Take a break!
We all need a break.  If you’re like me, you’re hard on yourself and don’t make a lot of time for enjoyable activities because you HAVE to focus on growing your business.  However, we all need to take time to “re-charge our batteries.” There are many ways to RELAX!  Take a hot bath, visit Starbucks, make time for a good book, take a walk, listen to the birds, lay out in the sun, go on a vacation, spend time alone or with friends and family.  Do something for YOU!  You work hard, so work just as hard to reward yourself with some well-deserved time off.  You’ll be surprised what it can do for your energy and creativity! 

8. Create and send out surveys.
This is a good time to see what your customers and/or potential customers are thinking.  Ask them what they’d like to see from you.  Maybe offer a freebie or some other incentive for completing and returning the survey.  (For online purposes, I have used Survey Monkey and really like their service.  http://surveymonkey.com)

9. Take Care of Household Duties.
When you work from home, or have a home-based business, sometimes it helps to just take care of chores around the house.  Maybe you want to do some serious deep-cleaning on the kitchen or bathrooms, maybe you want to GO GREEN, or perhaps you want to clean out the shed or overhaul the garage.  Whatever it is, it can clear clutter both physically and mentally, and allow you to come back renewed.

10. If none of those things struck you, perhaps one of these will…
Learn Something, Get a Jump on Taxes, Send gratitude notes to past customers with a freebie or coupon, doodle, brainstorm, create a blog, create a website, write a letter to friends/family you’ve been meaning to keep in touch with, call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.  Don’t sing the blues…be proactive and USE the time that you’re given – it IS a blessing in diguise.  🙂   

 

A Favorite Quote

I wished upon a star – TTV Fine Art Photographic Print
by Etsy Artist, barbaragordon

I have many favorite poems and quotes.  Reading them often inspires me and renews my spirit.  Here’s one that I like…

As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that
wasn’t supposed to ever let you down probably will. You
will have your heart broken probably more than once and
it’s harder every time. You’ll break hearts too, so remember

how it felt when yours was broken. You’ll fight with your
best friend. You’ll blame a new love for things an old one
did. You’ll cry because time is passing too fast, and you’ll
eventually lose someone you love. So take too many
pictures, laugh too much, and love like you’ve never been
hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a
minute of happiness you’ll never get back. Don’t be afraid
that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.

Now, for our Creative Journey Task (Day 4):  If you are joining us on the creative journey, I hope you are keeping up with your mental dumps and that you’re seeing benefit in it!  Have you shared that practice with someone else?  Remember, when we teach, we learn better!  Also, how about that eulogy?  Can anyone share if they’ve been participating or trying any of these tasks?  Even if you are not following and doing every task, it’s nice to see the thoughts and experiences others have with them.  Please share!  Today, it’s all about quotes and how WORDS impact us. 

DAY 4 TASK:  Get a post-it note or a piece of paper and find a quote that inspires you.  Write the new quote down on that piece of paper and post it in a place that you will frequently see throughout your day.  Let it influence you. 

I love surrounding myself with quotes!  I enjoy the daily practice of finding good quotes and posting them to set the tone for, “my daily thought.”  My quotes often reflect circumstances or challenges that I’m facing and help me to maintain optimism and fortitude throughout my day.  It’s so refreshing!  When I used to work in an office, I made a binder of all of my quotes and displayed a quote each day, for all to see.  It was a great way to create a nice environment and a wonderful way to set a positive tone.  Please share quotes that YOU love!  I’d love to read them!  Thanks!  In the meantime…don’t forget to savor every moment of your day, and appreciate the small things.  They areoften quite impressive, beautiful and mesmerizing!

My EARTH DAY item…

So, today, I’m simply going to share with you, my newest shop item.  I named it, “Earth Day Necklace” because I was feeling super creative!  HAHAH.  it’s cute though and I love the way it turned out…very fun and bohemian. 

If you want to view the listing in my store, CLICK HERE.
Earth Day Necklace

Creative Journey (Day 3)

Since I invited others to join me on a creative journey, some people who have visited have mentioned a book called, “The Artist’s Way”by Julia Cameron.  If you have not read the book and you enjoy seeking inspiration, INDEED – I definitley recommend it!  It is a 12-week program for people to connect with their creativity.  It requires discipline and a commitment, but it is worth it if you’re ready to truly make some personal discoveries!  The mental-dumping idea is also practiced in “The Artist’s Way,” but in that program, they are called, “morning pages.”

Through the years, I have read a number of books, attended workshops, retreats, events, was an art major, an art therapy major, graduated with my degree in psychology,  and worked at a number and variety of jobs, including nearly 10 years in the field of human services and one fantastic summer college program at Walt Disney World.  Ultimately, I’m picking and choosing from things I’ve either participated in or used in my line of work and I’m sharing them with you.  They are only a small number of the many things that I have found useful.  On that note, today I am drawing from a book by Dr. Stephen R. Covey, that I’m sure many of you are familiar…It’s called, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  The book, as a whole, is another great read, but today’s excerpt is based on, “starting with the end in mind.”

So, for Day Three on The Chatterbox Blog’s Creative Journey…
I am going to ask you to think about something morbid.  Please don’t resist because you don’t like thinking about death.  If you can go to an alternative location it would be great.  You don’t have to, but if you can, I suggest that you go to a church, a graveyard, or a place that you can go to quietly meditate.  It seems that, when done in one of those locations, that the activity is really powerful. 

Once you find your place, I want you to get in the frame of mind of attending a funeral.  Imagine getting dressed, driving to the church and you slowly coming to the realization that you are not only attending a funeral…you are attending your OWN funeral.  Now, think of four people: one from your family, one from your church or community, one from work, and one friend.  What would you like them to say about your character, your contributions and achievements?  This activity may be really difficult for some people, some might resist doing it, others still might laugh about it and question the purpose.  Whatever your response, I encourage you to give it thought and to really consider what you would want said. 

When you finish, you might find that you have discovered your key fundamental values, your definition of success, and it will help you to start over with a clearer understanding of your destination…it will allow you to “start with the end in mind.” 

So being that you are not dead, think about what you are doing with your life NOW.  Do you take responsibility for your behavior or do you find yourself complaining and blaming others?  How are you dealing with the difficult circumstances in your life?  How are you enjoying life’s pleasures?  Are you someone who works hard or would prefer to hardly work?  Are you appreciating those people around you?  How do you respond to others?  Where are you focusing your energies?  Are you living in a way that would result in those four people you chose, to say the things you’d like them to say?  If not, perhaps you should invest more time into the things you hope to be better at.  Only you and your values, choices, words and behavior will determine what people will say about you.  YOU make choices about what you will and will not contribute.  YOU CREATE the image at the end of your life…so start creating!

A SANDWICH OF INSPIRATIONAL PROPORTIONS!!!

I know I’ve said it before, but when I think of people and companies, who inspire me, I think of people who think OUTSIDE THE BOX.  Today, I thought I’d share a sandwich with you.  “What?  A SANDWICH?” You say.  Yes.  A sandwich.  But, not just ANY sandwich.  This sandwich is one of inspirational proportions!  A little while back, I mentioned my longing for home sweet home, and a fellow blogger reminded me of one of the many things back home, that all Pittsburghers likely reserve a special place for (many, right next to their beer)… in their stomachs, that is.

PRIMANTI BROTHERS  PRIMANTI BROTHERS
    

As you can see, these sandwiches have a colossal size and a reputation to match.  They give the phrase, “The Works” a whole new meaning!  Slaw, French Fries, Tomatoes, and whatever meat, cheese and sauce you like, all slapped on sourdough bread.  It may look gross, and may seem like it’s a bit TOO MUCH.  Well, it is kind of gross, but it tastes GREAT, and it may be a bit too much, but you can always share with a friend or save some for later. 

  

They are open 24 hours, so you can stop in after the clubs shut down (even the after hours ones!), or you can stop in and eat breakfast with the early rising blue-collar workers that fuel the city!  Either way, it’s one heck of an eating experience!  If you ever make it to Pittsburgh, this is ONE thing you HAVE to try…just ask anyone on the street for the name of one place you should eat before you leave.  And, trust me when I say, this will be at the top of the list!

Now, you could go to their more recent, Harmar location, but I wouldn’t recommend it, if you want to get the TRUE, Primanti Brothers Experience.  You need to go “DAHN TAHN” (Which is Pittsburgh-ese for “downtown.”  And not just “dahntahn”…you have to make sure you go to the Strip District.  Now, don’t get all worried – I’m not talking about the “adult” district…The Strip District is just a shopping district, where you and truly and authentically experience the Burgh…right by the docks.  🙂

So remember, yes, it’s going to be smothered in coleslaw, french fries, grease, meat and whatever else you choose, slapped on sourdough bread, but it’s going to leave you more than satisfied – so satisfied you might just think you DID visit the “adult” district.  Heh heh.  And that, my readers…is inspiration!  If you make something crafty, does it DO IT FOR THE CROWD, enough to make them rave about it like I just did about a Primanti’s sandwich?  If not, maybe it’s time to reevaluate and ask yourself what you can do.  Trust me…I’m right there thinking with you!  🙂  (Right after I suck the saliva down from thinking about a Delicious, Hot, Pastrami from Primanti’s!).

 

Now, for those of you who have decided to JOIN ME ON THE JOURNEY with our tasks to provide inspiration.  Here’s what we are doing between today and tomorrow…

(Day 2) – Tell a friend about your practice of using the mental dumping exercise.  Become the teacher and explain the purpose behind it.  Encourage someone else to join in on it!  Whether or not they do, you will benefit from sharing.  When you become the teacher, you take increased ownership and personal responsibility for your new task…which will hopefully become a good habit!  YOU ALSO LEARN BETTER WHEN YOU TEACH.  🙂

Seeking Inspiration? Join me on a creative journey! (DAY 1)

Journey

I find that many people are looking for ways to get inspired and are curious about how other people find inspiration.  To this point, I am going to start posting a new series that I will title, “JOIN ME FOR A CREATIVE JOURNEY!  Tasks to help you get inspired!”  I hope you join me and hope you share your experiences as we journey along.  I anticipate it to be quite fun!

Day One:  As we start our creative journey, it is important to begin with a clear mental state.  So, for our first task, I am assigning this…Upon waking up each day, set aside 30 minutes to sit without distractions, with a writing utensil and a piece of paper.  During those 30 minutes, write whatever comes to mind.  Don’t worry about punctuation, or composition.  Don’t worry if it’s disconnected, silly, emotional, senseless, or even if you are drawing blanks and you write, “blah, blah, blah.”  JUST WRITE.  And, write continuously, EVERY thought that comes into your head, as it comes, until those 30 minutes are up.  It will be very important to prioritize this task, as you will find that not doing it will produce a whole different affect.  So, what do I mean?  Well, I’ll help you get your juices flowing.  I’m going to free write and share an example:

 “…so, I’m writing, and I’m not sure what I’m going to accomplish, but I’m writing.  My fingers don’t want to type.  I need to clean up the pencil container on my desk.  I love that dog Anthony gave me…it’s so cute.  He is so thoughtful.  paper.  ugh.  have to find craft shows for the summer.  maybe some local churches – got to look in the local Penny Saver that comes in the mail.  I am looking forward to going home for a visit.  Can’t wait for the retreat either.  Should be fun.  my coffee is getting cold.  I need to pressure wash the porch today and have to get some calls made too.  work stares me in the face.  A woman’s work is never done.  ha ha.  I love taking pictures.  I need a new phone.  My phone is a dinosaur.  At least it functions though….” 

So, you get the point…JUST WRITE.  FREE FLOW WITH IT.  Clear your mind.  Years ago, I started this practice when I began a creative journey for inspiration, and it totally works!  I’ve since gotten out of the practice, but I’m going to start again.  Join me!  Do it daily, and if you are really diligent, do it twice daily – once in the morning and once before bed.  Don’t think of it like a journal, per say, because it’s more like a dumping ground.  Clear your head of all stress, thoughts, anxiety, worry and preoccupation.

  
     

In today’s society, it’s easy to become distracted with all that is going on around us.  It’s not easy to get centered, to clear our minds, or to be available.  When we “dump” all the “clutter,” it opens our minds up for a more productive day and invites creativity.  Try it and see what happens.  I’ll bet you’ll start seeing a difference after the first day.  Go wherever you want to, to do your mental dump.  When I started this practice, I was a teacher and I would write in the morning, while early students would eat breakfast.  On weekends, I liked to go outside and be alone with the chirping birds.  It’s whatever works for you and it can be different every day. 

Please let me know if you plan to join in on this journey, and if you do, let me know when you have started to practice your “mental dumping” and, please share your experiences!  I’m going to be posting new weekly tasks for you all to try, that will hopefully help you to jump start your creative juices!  Looking forward to a great group project and creative journey!  Hope it helps!  Have a wonderful day!  🙂