Sunday, October 31, 2010

Boot Camp Week 5

This week has been a little tough for me (so rough I've been writing this for a week!).  I have so much I want to do and get done, but not enough time to do it.  So we will start with this blog and work my way through this weeks "marching orders."

First up, Adam Braun's 7 Key Life Lessons:

1. Get out of your comfort zone
My comfort zone is creating the things that people ask for.  I need to create more of the things I want to make and put it out there for everyone to see.

2. Embrace the late sleepless nights:
Haha, this one is kind of funny to me.  I don't have many late sleepless nights.  I get up and start getting ready for work at 5am and get home around 5pm.  When my daughter goes to bed at 8pm I'm headed to my bed too.  I normally finish off the night with a little crocheting before I pass out, hook in hand.

3. Speak the language of the individual you want to become.
This is definitely good advice for anyone!  I want to become a very positive and confident person.  I want to have faith in my abilities.  And I have been doing quite well at trying to see the positive in all things.  Although seeing the positive in my 1.5 year old getting up at 4am today seems to evade me!

4. Find a mantra to anchor and guide you:
I may have to think about this one as it applies to my crafting.  My modo in life is "don't let the past ruin your future" but that doesn't really apply here.

5. Always stay guided by your values, not your necessities.
This I wish was something I could completely live by.  My values want me home with my daughter everyday doing my crafting and taking care of her.  But what I NEED is to feed her and keep a roof over her head.  So for the time being the necessity of a home and food out weigh my values.  But I guess in a sense it is following my values because family comes before all else.

6. To achieve unreasonable things, you have to become an unreasonable person.
This relates to number 1.  My comfort zone keeps me from becoming unreasonable.

7. Become hopelessly idealistic about things that make you feel the most alive.
This is not a problem for me!

Danielle put together a great article with lots of links about photographing your items.  I took this task very seriously and removed all the items from my shop.  I took new pictures of all of my inventory and I'm adding them back to my shop one by one with new pictures, descriptions and tags.  Check it out!  What do you think???

Oh and I have a buddy now!  Check out her shop!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Boot Camp Week 4

Weekly Article:
This week’s article touched on a subject that I struggle with.  Creating a listing that tells a story and creates feelings in the customer.  Now granted there isn’t much of a “story” behind bows and hats that are handmade.  It’s not like antiques where they’ve been passed down for generations or anything.  But I need to come up with more to put into my descriptions than just “bow, this big, this color”.  If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them.

This article has also inspired me to run a contest.  I will have the contest participants go to my Etsy page and look at my pictures.  Then tell me which item caught their eye the most and why.  This should help me at least get more views on my items if they look more appealing upfront.

Key Work Exercise:
Buyer Attributes
Style Key Words
Key Brand Values
One of a kind
Well Crafted

Update Profile:
Why don’t you just check it out for yourself!  My Profile!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Boot Camp Week 3

This week’s article was about doing custom work.  This is something I have been doing a lot of lately.  And like the article says, the best ways to get custom orders is to make suggestions to the customers.  My sales in sports hats have increased sinced posting different pictures of what I can do rather than just saying “I can make sports hats in any colors you want”.  I posted different pictures with different hat designs and people started asking if I could combine designs and colors.

Fill in the Blank:
The fill in the blank exercise was to accomplish something that you have been putting off.  I have been putting off ordering bow cards.  I have been making my own by printing my logo on card stock and then using an exacto knife to cut holes.  After a while it starts to hurt my fingers and the whole just don’t look very professional to me.  In the forum I asked if anyone knew where to get some decently priced cards and Frogget gave me the wonderful suggestion of using a scrapbooking punch to make the wholes!  A duh!  Can you tell I don’t scrap book?  So a big thanks to her, now I just need to head down to the craft store and pick up a punch!

Six Success Secrets:
This article made me realize the each item I make is unique and a result of my personality.  Even the customized items have some personality from me.  The exercise is to look at the 6 secrets and think about how you can apply them to your creative life.

            Be You:  On the outside I am a very plain Jane person, but on the inside I am busting with color and expression.  For example most of my clothes are very plain and simple, but when you walk into my house my walls are bright colors with lots of high contrast in every room.  I like bringing this expression of color out in my work also.

            Trust Your Compass:  I have a hard time with this one.  I tend to second guess myself with a lot of things, especially my abilities in new crafting areas.  I need to keep in mind that if there is something new that I want to try I should weigh the cost of unused materials and my time and the gain that I could have by creating something new to offer to my customers.

            Embrace the Optimist: I have to be optimistic about my shop if some day I want this to become my full time job.  I have to believe that there is a way I can make that happen and that with each item I make I am one step closer to reaching that goal.

            Surround Yourself With Love: The only time I am not surrounded by things that truly make me happy is when I am at my “real” job.  Everyone in my life supports my crafting and loves the things I make.  Even if they don’t understand why I enjoy it, they understand that I do enjoy it.

Know What You Need and Get It: I am in the process of trying to figure out a way that I can increase orders enough to some day leave my “real” job and become a work at home mom with my shop as my main source of income.  I know this will take a long time, but I need to remember to keep my eye on the prize!  I just don’t know if I will ever make enough in my shop to support my family.  Sales would need to increase exponentially and I would have to find the time to make the orders.  I am in the process of trying to stock up on popular items with the materials I have on hand.

Get a head start on your holiday stock:
I am certainly working on this.  I’m not going to tell you what is to come, but I have some new items for boys and girls and some new hat designs!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Boot Camp Week 2

This week Boot Camp focused on the customer.

The article Etsy Success: Merchandising for the Holidays  gave some very good advice on custom identification. And need to identify who your customers are. For example, a 60 year old shop worker is probaby not going to be a customer. And if he is, he is not the customer I want to target, although I do have different ideal customers for my variety of items. Some qualities my customers may have: 
  • New and Expecting moms that like the current bow trend
  • Friends and Family buying gifts for little girls.
  • Ages of the children may vary as bows can be worn for many years.
  • A person who wants to buy a one of a kind hand made gift that can be handed down.
Right now my most popular items are:
  • Sports hats
  • Sports bows
  • Butterfly/Bee clips
 New Items I am considering for holiday season:
  •  Holiday themed hats (candy cane, santa, jingle bells)
  • Holiday themed bows (round, bowtie, etc.)
  • Christmas colored tutus with matching bows
  • Packages with multiple items

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Boot Camp Week 1

I really didn’t do any of this until the end of Week 2, but hey it counts right?

The Pledge:

I, Brandi, pledge to participate in the Etsy Success Holiday Boot Camp to the best of my abilities. I vow to check in every week, do my homework and support my fellow Holiday Boot Campers. I will read the weekly newsletters and blog posts, check in on the weekly forum thread, check off the checklists and salute the mascot. I promise to share what I’ve learned with those who need it, support my fellow Etsy indiepreneurs and , most of all, have a positive and persistent attitude. I understand that together we can spread the word about our handmade and vintage goods, making this holiday season a more unique and meaningful one to gift givers and givees everywhere!

I voted for this mascot, although the cutie didn’t win (probably because I voted way after the deadline!)
Camouflage Monkey

I already have Web Analytics, but I still have a lot to learn about how to use it! I know the basics like viewing how many people have visited my shop and how they got there.  And I have now learned how to see which items are being viewed most often!

Holiday Mission Statement: My mission this holiday season is to reach 75 item sales by the end of the year. Currently with both my Facebook and Etsy sales I have sold 45 items on 19 invoices. I would love to reach 100 items, but I want my goals to be obtainable. Anything beyond 75 I will be ecstatic about.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

News Letters

So I am a little late in getting this started, but what’s new with me being
late or behind??? As long as it’s not my orders it’s no big deal!

As you know I have an Etsy shop and of course I get the newsletters with
tips on how to improve your shop and be successful, I mean really who
doesn’t want that kind of advice? Anyway, about a month ago A newsletter
came out (that of course I see in my inbox on blackberry, cause who checks
their email on the computer these days?) and the subject is “Holiday Boot
Camp”. Yes I’m intrigued. I love the kicka$$ and take names approach to
getting things done. But of course because it’s on my phone I can’t read
the article right away. And by the time I get home I’ve forgotten all
about it, for like the next week! But the email subject heading was still
sitting there in my inbox on phone tempting me to sneak away from my “real”
job and read this newsletter. I behaved myself though. . . I waited until
my lunch hour.

Turns out this Holiday Boot Camp is designed to help you get ready for the
“holiday rush” (that I’m really hoping to have) and to stay motivated and
excited about the coming season! I eagerly joined this Boot Camp even
though I was almost 2 weeks behind by this time. And as time allows I plan
to share my Boot Camp Story with you . . . My faithful customers that I am
about to aww with wonderfully cute new items that you won’t be able to