Saturday, February 14, 2009

Drumroll please..........

And the winner of my very first giveaway is Jemjoop! Woo Hoo! Balloons and confetti are falling from the ceiling!!!!!

Congratulations to Jemjoop. She is the winner of a decorative birdhouse from MyOtherShop and her choice of 3 cards from FourDogDay!

You can visit Jemjoop's blog by clicking HERE and her darling etsy shop where she makes scale dollhouse miniatures HERE.

Thanks to everyone that took the time to enter my first giveaway. I will be having another one in a couple of weeks.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Won't You Please, Please Help Me.....

Ah, lyrics from the Beatles....and yes, I am looking for some help today.

I'm stumped. I don't know how to market my etsy business. I really don't and I'll bet I am not alone.

When people in the etsy forums are whining about not having any sales, everyone always tell them that they need to promote off etsy by using Twitter and Facebook and Flickr and business cards and e-mail etc. etc. etc.

Then someone will always come in and say you have to find your target market or something like that. You have to find the people that would want to buy your stuff and market to them. Ok, that makes total sense....but where do I find them??

I don't really understand the difference between promoting and marketing. Are they the same thing?

I looked them up in the dictionary:

Promote: 1. to contribute to the growth or prosperity of 2. to help bring (as an enterprise) into being 3. to present merchandise for buyer acceptance through advertising, publicity or discounting

Marketing: 1. the process or technique of promoting, selling or distributing a product or service 2. an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer

So promoting is part of marketing, and marketing is everything you do to move your products from you to the world???

I have decided that I am really not very good at this whole part of my business. I would guess that a lot of people are in the same boat I am.....and I feel like the boat is sinking sometimes.

I need a plan, but the plan I made that I thought was going to be so great consisted of twitter, artfire, 1000markets, business cards and a blog....but that really isn't promoting my business, except for maybe the business cards. Twitter, artfire and 1000markets aren't helping me with my etsy business, in fact they take time away from my etsy business. So, now that I have figured that out....what do I need to do to market my etsy business?

Where do I go to find the type of people that would be most apt to purchase my cards, gift tags, photos and home decor? Where are you people???

I think a trip to the library is in order. I'm serious. I need to learn about marketing and promoting if I am going to make my etsy business a success. Any books you can recommend?

Do you struggle with this part of your business? If so, what are you doing to learn this side of owning your own business? If you already understand this side of owning your own business, do you have any suggestions that might help those of us that haven't figured it out yet?

I am doing what I love. I have found unique and useful products to create. I love the look and feel of my shops...but how do I bring my own customers to my shop?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Time To Make The Donuts

Do you remember the commercial with the baker getting up way before dawn and going to work to make the donuts....he would say, "Time To Make The Donuts" as he dragged himself out the door for work. Well, there are days I feel like that, but I don't make donuts....never have, never will....because I would eat them all.

I was thinking yesterday though about how lucky I am to have a job right now. Then I started thinking about all of the jobs I have had over the course of my life, and I've had quite a few...especially considering I was a SAHM (stay at home mom) for many of those years. Here's a brief rundown of my no laughing!!

Mother's Helper....yes, I took care of their 3 children while she did whatever she felt like like doing. I was 15 years old and it was summer. I lived with them 5 days a week. I had my own room, my own TV and my own bathroom. When the kids were napping I could ride their horses and swim in the neighbor's pool. Not too bad. I did burn out though before the end of the summer because she had a baby in July and then she expected me to cook, clean, do laundry and iron. That was NOT part of the arrangement!

Dog Washer...loved this job. Our neighbor had a dog grooming parlor. I got to bathe the dogs and polish their nails and put bows in their hair. The only part that wasn't fun was pulling the dirty hair out of their ears and squeezing their anal glands. Ewwww!

Telephone you remember when you DIALED "O" and a lady would say, "Operator"....that was me! I placed long distance calls, conference calls and stuff like that....and no I never said, "One Ringy Dingy." Fun job, great pay and benefits. Then I got promoted to supervisor and that wasn't quite as much fun. I had to train new operators. Then I got promoted to the Business Office and that really wasn't fun. They would listen in on your calls to be sure you said exactly what you were trained to say. You had to offer every person that wanted a phone the three phone package deal. Ooooooo....touchtone! Remember when the Trimline and Princess Phones came out? I was a great sales person back then. I have this nifty charm bracelet with all my little charm awards on it...most are in the shape of little telephones!

Retail Clerk...I paid my dues here....I worked in an upscale clothing store, a grocery store, a pet store, and a school supply store. I enjoyed the customers and made some great friends. The not-so-great part was the hours. I also got arrested for selling beer to a minor when I worked at the grocery store. The guy was big and had a full beard! I got a $50 fine and he got zip! I didn't know he was underage but he sure did. Sounds fair doesn't it? I ended up managing the school supply store and that was definitely one of may favorite jobs. I loved being able to arrange the store however I wanted it. I love making signs for sales and doing the front window. I made a kid's play area with a picket fence that looked like colored pencils. It was so cute. I left there when the owners started having personal problems and stopped ordering things for the store and stopped paying the bills. It was a nightmare. I scooted before they folded, which they eventually did. It was a shame, it was an amazing store!

Avon stop laughing...that isn't nice...and no "Ding Dong, Avon Calling!" I actually sold Avon for almost 5 years and did quite well. I won an award every year for my sales. I really had a great time with it when I could work during the day. Then lots of women started working outside the home and the job ended up being lots of nights and weekends and that wasn't what I wanted at that time. It was a great experience though and it taught me what it takes to be successful in business...and that is a lot of hard work.

Front Desk Supervisor and then the Office Manager at a Natural Health Office....loved what we did, loved the staff I worked with, but oh, the bosses! No one stayed there very long. They used their religion as a basis for how they ran their business and it was a strange place to say the least. I learned a lot there though about my body and my health and I am grateful for that. I stayed longer than anyone else because I didn't think I could go anywhere else and make the money I made there. I was wrong. Glad I left when I did.

Business Owner....of a technology network marketing company...let's just say I spent thousands and made nothing. It was definitely not for me.

Secretary for the Special Ed Department at a School District....this is the wonderful job I have now. Very rewarding, great environment, wonderful staff, good pay and benefits. If I have to work...which I do, it's a wonderful job!

Business Owner....of 2 craft shops on etsy. All I can say is that it has filled a tremendous void for me and I couldn't be happier. I love the challenge, and it sure is a challenge!

One day I will be able to retire and spend all of my time on my business. That is my goal. I would love to do that, and some other things that don't seem to fit into my schedule right now like take ballet and join a rowing team! In addition to that, I would like to do some volunteer work.

I will get there one day, but while I work to get there...I always remember to enjoy each and every day of my journey.

So, now you can tell me about any fun, strange, awful jobs that you have had. Come on now...don't be shy!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I May Have Created A Monster!

Okay, I did a really dumb thing. See, Irv (my hubby) reads my blog on a daily basis when we are both at work. Then he e-mails me his comments because he really has no clue how to leave a comment. Sometimes his comments are funny, sometimes they are insightful and sometimes they are really a bit on the rude today.

This morning I e-mailed him and told him to be sure to check out my blog and the little slide show I added of him and his garden. I plan to update the photos each week so everyone can see how his garden is coming along. I thought I was doing a really nice thing. I even told him he was going to famous!

He checked it out and then e-mailed me and said, "Wow, maybe some rich woman will find me!"

Can you believe after 36 years he is going to dumb wonderful me for some rich woman he meets on the Internet?

Not sure what I was thinking, but I went in and set up a blogger account for him. I told him he can start his own blog and talk about gardening. He said he wasn't sure if he wanted a bunch of women telling him how to garden! OUCH! Not nice! See, this is the abuse I have to take.

So, he just got home and asked me what to do to leave a comment on a blog. I showed him, so be prepared for some interesting comments starting tomorrow.

I love my blog world and I'm thinking I might have made a mistake here....time will tell.

Okay, I just went in and wrote a quick little blog post for him so people can leave comments. If you have time, feel free to stop by his blog and leave him some encouraging words. Maybe we can get him to start posting on his new little blog! I think I'll e-mail the kids and tell them to do the same! HAHA this could be fun!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Drowning in Clutter

I feel great today! Not sure why...I just do! What neat comments on yesterday's post about moving. One of them said to clean out the house and paint and prepare for a move, because you just never know. That's funny because I decided a couple of months ago that the only way I will ever get our house cleared out is to set a date and pretend we are moving on that date! I'll need a dumpster to get rid of 36 years of accumulation, but it'll be worth it. If I want any help from Irv, I really need to start now, because once the snow is gone and the temperature starts rising, Irv is outside and he won't come in until November!

We have so much "stuff". If I really had a lot of guts...the boxes that are stacked up in the basement...the ones that haven't been opened in over 10 or 15 years...I would just not open them and I would just throw them in the garbage! What could be in them that I would need if I haven't looked in the boxes for that long? Then I realize that there could be something special in the boxes, and there could also be items that someone could use so I can't just throw them away.

Our closets are overflowing...mind you we only have 2.5 closets in our humble little abode. We have a partial basement that is all concrete so it's fine for some storage, but it does get humid down there in the summer so I can't store certain things down there...therefore, those things are crammed into the 2.5 closets...things like photo albums, old records, keepsakes, books etc. I am great at throwing things onto the shelves as you can tell by the photos. I just kind of fling things and hope that they don't come down and hit me in the head.

The thought of "dejunking"my house is so overwhelming that I will probably tackle it like I do most major projects. I tell myself that I can only work on it for 15 minutes a day. That's it. I can always find 15 minutes a day...and if I don't have a ton of other things to do that day, and I end up working a little longer...that's a bonus. If I do it that way, it doesn't seem like such a big job and before you know it's done! So, 15 minutes a day it is.

I actually wrote this post earlier today and I have an update. I just devoted 15 minutes to the closet in my workshop. I hustled and got the shelf done. It looks wonderful! After I put everything back on it though, I realized I should have flipped the shelf over. It is bowed from the weight of all the junk that was on it. I'll flip it over tomorrow during my 15 minutes.

I'll update you periodically on my dejunking progress. Even though I am not moving any time soon, or possibly not at all, right after Tresa's wedding next month I will set a "closing" date and try to be done with my project by then.

Have you ever dejunked your house? How did it go? Any suggestions? I'm thinking of using "Keep" boxes, "Donate" boxes and "Garbage" boxes and see how that works. Then I'll pile all of my kid's stuff in one spot and have them go through it and toss what they don't want. I don't mind storing some things for them, but I'm sure there are things downstairs that they don't need or want either.

Woo Hoo! I'm excited just thinking about the end result. Once it's cleaned out maybe I'll do some painting. Just don't tell Irv....he hates it when I start painting!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pulling Up Roots

I want to move. I really do. Unfortunately, I can't move right now. There are a number of the job market, the housing market, too much debt and two of my kids live here....the two that will be starting families of their own soon. Those of you that have moved over and over and over again probably think I'm crazy, however, I grew up about five miles from where we now live. Irv moved out here from Chicago in eighth grade. This area is all we've ever known. It was a awesome place to grow up and a wonderful place to raise kids, but now I want to experience something new. I want the excitement of putting down roots somewhere else. I want a change of scene. I'm ready to pull up the stakes and pitch my tent in another part of the country.

Let's say that three years from now the economy is better, houses are selling and there are jobs available. That would be great, but there would still be one thing that would keep me here, and that would be grandchildren. I am really looking forward to that. I don't want to be a long distance grandma. I want to be hands on. I want my grandchildren to know me, to sit on my lap so I can read to them and sing to them. I can't do that from the other side of the least not on a regular basis.

So, just this morning I asked myself...what is it that's driving me to want to move in the first place? Is it the weather? The view? The house? The fresh start? The adventure of it all?

If I ever moved out of state, I wouldn't be moving to a warmer climate. I would move to Colorado. So it obviously isn't the winters. The view is definitely a plus in Colorado, but it isn't the driving force behind my desire. I don't really care too much about the house. Sure after 36 years in the same little house, it might be fun to have a change of scene, but I love my little house. No, it isn't that. A fresh start? That always sounds like fun, but we really get a fresh start each and every day. Don't we?

The excitement? Yes, I think that might be it....although I honestly feel that it's really a little of all of the above that feeds into the excitement. Don't you think?

If I can't pick up and move to Colorado when the opportunity presents itself because my heart tells me to stay put, what could I do to fill my desire for the excitement a move would bring?

What about moving to a new town in Illinois, or in southern Wisconsin? Would that do it? Would that be enough? I would be moving, but still not leaving the kids and possible grandchildren. It would be the same awful weather and the same basic midwestern view, but it would be a fresh start, a different house and would be exciting!

All I can do right now is to continue to control what I can control and that is clearing up my debt. Then when the time comes, I will take a look at everything else and decide where I would like to continue this wonderful adventure called "life"!! The funny thing is...when I think about pulling out of this driveway for the last time, I tear up.....I assume I would get over that?

Have you moved a lot? Did you leave somewhere you loved? Are you living where you grew up? Are you living where you want to live? Feel free to share...I would love to hear your stories!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Succeeding In Business In A Failing Economy

I was reading the McHenry County Business Journal on the train yesterday and came across an excellent little article by Catherine Jones. It was called Fearless Execution.

Here is how the article started out, "Do you find yourself spending at least a portion of each day thinking about the current state of the economy? Wondering how your business will be impacted? Are you preoccupied with budget concerns, looking for expenses that could be trimmed?

You'll likely find fear to be an underlying emotion behind these daily concerns that weigh heavily on each of us at the present time. Unfortunately, fear is not constructive and leads to becoming inwardly focused, diverting attention and necessary resources from the execution of the organization's mission."

"Changing your mindset from one of fear to what might best be described as fearlessness keeps the focus on the positive and fuels the optimism needed to courageously reach toward goals."

If I have seen one thread in the etsy forums regarding the economy and it's affect on our shops...I swear I have seen 100. I'm actually tired of them. If people spent as much time working on their shops as they do complaining about the economy, we would all have absolutely amazing shops!

Jones goes on to say that an Indiana University Horn Professor Jeff Nelson has developed techniques that he recommends to his students for fearless musical performance. His lessons would certainly work for all of us in business.

One of the thoughts is to raise your standards. Jones says to treat every day as a "new performance opportunity that demands the highest level of execution and attention to detail." I love this statement, "Close enough might have worked yesterday, but economic conditions today demand more." In our shops, that means awesome photos, great descriptions, purposeful tags and service way above and beyond.

Jones also talks about the planning process. If we have some type of plan already in place for our shops, we won't waste time everyday wondering what it is we could or should be doing. With a plan in place, you get into your workshop and you start creating or marketing or whatever your plan calls for.

This is perfect too, "When your attention is on the competition, your own performance suffers." In relation to our shops, if we sit and spend our time constantly concerned with what the other guy is doing and how they are doing it and if what they are doing is fair or proper and on and on....we are wasting valuable time we could be using to work on our own business.

There is nothing wrong with checking out the competition, but worrying about the competition does nothing to improve your shop or to bring yourself don't overdo it!

"We frequently limit our ability to design creative solutions by focusing attention on the negative. When an organization's concentration is on not failing, there is little attention left for creativity and innovation" Jones went on to say. If we sit and spend all of our energy thinking about what we can't do, we have no energy left to concentrate on what we can do.

Jones ends the article talking about setting what she calls "stretch" goals. She said that we often spend the same amount of energy to get so-so results as we could to accomplish so much more. She also suggests that you write down the successes and the things that went well....for us maybe that would be a weekly or monthly thing to do. Then take a look at what didn't go so well and look for ways to improve.

I mentioned yesterday that the huge mall I was at was packed with people......people in line making purchases. I made many of my own. The key is finding the people that are still looking to buy and directing them to your shop where you offer useful and unique items at a price they are willing to pay for wonderful handmade, high quality items!

So, think positive, find ways to improve your shop and make it the best it has ever been...then find the shoppers and bring them to your shop. Success is right around the corner!

Henry Ford once said, "Whether you think you can or think you can't...You're right!"

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