Thursday, March 25, 2010

Birthday Gifts!

It's my birthday tomorrow, March 26th so I decided to celebrate by posting my Etsy favorites - what I want for my birthday AND an amazing special in my shop (at end of post).  Let the fun begin!

What girl doesn't want jewelry?  Love this pair of Gold and Copper Crystal Earrings by LoreMcreations.  They are nickel-free which is all I can wear and this shows that I can find nickel-free earrings that are absolutely beautiful!

I love clothes, so I need this Pink "Set Them Free" T-shirt by trashrags.  I have had my eye on this top for awhile.  It is perfect for summer and casual evenings at the ballpark and has a great message!

Now it's cold in Oregon, even in the Spring so I could really use this beautiful Custom Shabby Chic Quilt by marymcnultydesign.  It would fit my bed perfectly and what a lovely selection of soft colors to wake up to on a spring morning.

A perfect compliment to this quilt would be an equally beautiful floral picture hung on the wall.  I love the work of slcook52 and this Rose and Peonies 8x10 Photographic print would be divine hanging on the wall above this quilt in my room - just dreamy!

Now to really indulge, I would get this Antique Kindel Mahogany Dresser from BartonCottage on Etsy.  An absolutely gorgeous and rare piece, it would look great in any home...especially mine!

And finally, we all need a treat on our birthday.  So I want to indulge in these delicious and rich Triple Chocolate Heaven Vegan Cupcakes by thecupcakemint.  You can't go wrong with chocolate and with 4 of these, I enjoy my birthday treat for a few days!

Now for your treat on my birthday. . . A HUGE DISCOUNT!
If you have visited my shop ShabbyNChic, you know that I offer shabby chic home decor and more at very reasonable prices.  Because of that, I rarely do sales.  Well I decided that I wanted to celebrate my birthday with you with a special, so here it is!

Save 26% on any purchases on March 26th, 2010 of $26.00 or more (excluding shipping).  That's right!  26% off of $26.00 or more on the 26th.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 19, 2010

How Does She Do It?

Here it is!  The post I have been asked to write since I started my blog a little over a year ago.  People are constantly asking me how I manage 4 part-time jobs and 2 young children.  I suppose this post was not written sooner because of all that I have going on.  My shop is in addition to these jobs, but also what helps me maintain my sanity in the chaos of my life.  I can go in the garage, turn on music, and sand and paint and complete a project from start to finish just as I want.

                                     Shabby Chic Spring Wall Hanging

Upon reflecting to write this post, I had a difficult time figuring how I do it all.  I don't think about it a lot, I just do it!  I suppose if I thought much about how much I do, I would be completely overwhelmed, but most days it is quite easy.

Although everyday in my life is different, I have listed below what a typical day looks like for me...

7:15am - Wake up and lay in bed thinking through my day and cuddle with the kids and visit as they come in.
7:45am - Get out of bed and get everyone dressed and fed.
8:30am - Husband takes son to school, I check and return e-mails, tweet, and package up sales.
9:30am - Play with younger child. Husband stops at post office on way to work. 
10:30am - E-mails and Twitter again. Do computer work for one of my jobs for as long as the little one allows - usually 1 hour.
11:30am - Play with little one or go on a walk with her, run errands. 
12:30pm - Lunch
12:50pm - Little one down for nap (hopefully).  I now do e-mails and Twitter again and have time to work on pieces for my shop, take pictures, listings...
1:30pm - More work for day jobs.
2:20pm - Wake little one from nap and get her ready to pick up brother from school.
2:50pm - Pick up son from school, visit, snack time...
3:20pm - Kids play while I do more work on the computer, e-mails and Twitter again or tutor student in Spanish (depends on the day).
4:15pm - Stop the kids from fighting, get ready to go to another job, make dinner.
5:30pm - Husband gets home while we're eating and I head off to work.
6:00pm - Teaching
9:00pm - Get home, tuck kids in, eat snack, e-mails/Twitter, spend time with hubby.
11:00pm - Go to bed.

Again everyday is different.  There are days that I have meetings almost all day, so my husband flexes his schedule and goes in late and comes home after the kids are in bed.  And I do not work every evening.  

Tip #1 - Helpful husband!  I couldn't do this on my own and we really value the hours of his job and the flexibility.  He goes in late, so I try to schedule as much in the early morning hours as possible. 

Tip #2 - I can't do nothing.  I have never been one to sit still.  Even in college I worked 3 jobs while going to school full-time.  In graduate school I had 3 jobs, a toddler, and commuted to school which I attended full-time.  I love having a lot going on - that helps!

                                                   Shabby Date Tags

Tip #3 - A calendar that works!  I have ONE calendar where I put EVERYTHING.  It does not work otherwise.  I have all work meetings and appointments, kids' appointments, who is watching the kids when I can't, fun events...EVERYTHING on one calendar on my computer which is always open and accessible.

Tip #4 - To Do lists!  In my schedule I said that the first thing I do in the morning is think about my day.  I go through, in my mind, what I need to do that day - work, phone calls, errands...  When I get up, I make a To Do list with every task that I can think of.  It gives me a focus which is very important when you have a lot going on.  I keep it right next to my computer with a pen, so that I can add to it or cross items off as accomplished.

                            The Ultimate One Page To-Do List

Tip #5 - Keep an eye on the big picture.  I focus on today - the here and now with my To Do lists, but you have to keep in mind long-term goals as well.  I will look at my calendar each day to see what I have coming up later that week and anything major over the next month, so that no major project sneaks up on me.  I put deadlines on the calendar to help with this.
Tip #6 - Love what you do!  Before I went back to school, my husband and I agreed that we wanted to raise our kids and spend as much time with them as possible.  We did not want them in full-time child care just so that we could earn more money.  This is an individual decision that everyone has to make for their families and it is not an easy one.  We decided that we would go into debt, so that after completing my masters I could make at least as much money, but be able to work only part-time.

On difficult days, I remember why we are doing this - for our family.  I do not take on extra jobs for the money right now, but because I am keeping my eye on the big picture.  I eventually do want to go back to working full-time and am planning for that.  I actually did just turn down a job and I have to say that my husband and mother were surprised and proud of me.  That is because I just accepted another job a few days before that.  Thinking I'm crazy?  This is the job that will become full-time, just as we planned.  I have so happy with my life and have worked very hard to accomplish my goals for myself and my family. 

One Challenge - If you ask me what I am doing tomorrow, I really don't know!  I will have to refer to my calendar.
 One Bonus - I work very little in the summer, so I have a lot of time to enjoy then.  I live for the summer! :)

I'm sure I could think of more I do to manage everything, but this is already quite a list and it's time for me to get back to my To Do list for today.  Reminds me of a quote we've probably all heard, "It's a crazy life, but it's our life."

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Online Success Story

I recently reached 150 sales in my etsy shop and am very thankful for my success.  Going back and looking at the numbers and reflecting upon what got me to where I am now with my shop, sparked the idea to do this blog post. 

First of all, we all have a different definition of success, so 150 sales in a little over a year may not be much to you or may be more than you want.  I have 4 part-time jobs in addition to my etsy shop and am raising 2 young children, so selling in large numbers or doing wholesale would not fit with my definition of success.  I have even turned down selling in a brick and morter shop because it did not fit with where I want to go with what I do.  That said...

What I found with my sales that blew me away was how long it has taken me to reach 50 "more" sales.  It took me:
- 8 months to make my 1st 50 sales,
- 5 months to make my next 50 sales, and
- 3 months to make my most recent 50 sales!

This led me to ask: WHY?  (What else would I ask?)
The first 9 months of my shop were focused on:
- perfecting my craft (techniques)
- branding my shop (think colors and feel of shop)
- slowly improving pictures (taking them outside)
- and I started promoting my shop (Twitter, blog, and more).                        

The next 6 months, I knew where I was going.  I had worked on branding and had sold enough that I knew what my buyers wanted.  While I experimented with different colors, white is by far the most popular color in my shop.  Ignoring that would not be wise at all.  So whenever in doubt about what color to paint something, I choose white.  I also make sure that I have a good selection of white items in my shop at all times.

Around the end of these 6 months, I was featured in the Etsy Storque: Home Decor Finds which brought more traffic to my shop in one morning than I had seen from all of the work I had done to let people know about my shop.  I sold as many items that day that I had been selling in a month!  I honestly feel that that was a turning point for my shop.

That leads to the past 3 months where, at times, I average a sale a day (which is a lot for my shop) and an amount that is ideal for me.  How did I reach my personal goal of success?  Here it is...

I worked very hard at improving my pictures.  I look back now and can't believe that I thought the pictures I used when first opening up were good.  They were awful and I had to be honest with myself about that.  (Pictured to right - picture of the 1st item I ever sold.)  I now take all pictures with the same backgrounds and all in natural light - an amazing difference!

I continued to work on branding: backgrounds of pictures are cohesive in my shop, items I choose to sell are all cottage/shabby chic style, but I also offer a variety. Branch out with your products and pricing, but not too much. I also have business cards, thank you cards, and free items that fit with the feel of my shop which I send with every purchase.

Romantic Cottage Style Clock

Finally, what I notice has the greatest impact on my sales in the number of listings. Once I hit 100 items in my shop, my sales jumped! So I am maintaining at least 100 items - which is easy after all the work to get there. And I work to list 2 items per day. When I consistently list 2 items/day, I see 1 sale/day. As soon as I drop to less than that, my sales dropped. I start listing 2-3/day and my sales jump right back up.

                                         Paris Inspired Tags

So there it is - my recipe for success which I am still working hard on.  But this is my recipe for my shop.  Your recipe will almost definitely be different. However I hope there are some ideas here that can help you to improve your shop and reach your goal.