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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What's Happening Pinky?!

It's been quite awhile since I announced my blogging hiatus.  I've been keeping extremely busy, but I have had a few experiences that I want to share - and an awesome upcoming sale to promote!

The photo makes it look cluttered, but it looked fab in person!
Before I get to the sale, I wanted to share some photos from the Philomath Frolic Holiday Craft Show that I participated in last weekend.  This was my second year at this show, and I was super excited to make changes based on the lessons I learned last year.  I have re-designed my packaging, re-designed my display to be able to accommodate all my wine charms, and printed some fab new business cards. 

I definitely enjoy vending at this show because it's down where I grew up, and I get to spend the two days hanging out with my mom at the booth.  Unfortunately, most vendors experienced a drop in sales compared to last year, and I was no exception.  The traffic was pretty good, I received a ton of compliments on my work, but folks were holding tight to their wallets.  It was still a successful show, but this economy is hitting us hard.  I'm not sure if I'll do this show again next year; I suppose I'll have to see where everything is at next fall when applications come out! 
New packaging and wine charm display
In the meantime, I am OH SO EXCITED about the holiday shopping season.  Black Friday is a huge tradition in my family.  The core players are always my mom and I, and we're usually joined by one of my aunts, and occasionally one of my cousins.  We are lean, mean, deal-seeking machines.  Have you heard that a lot of stores are opening at midnight on Friday?  Yes, stores like Target and Kohls are hoping to drag you out of your turkey and pumpkin pie coma and into their stores at midnight.  At first, I was pretty excited about this.  I'd rather stay up late than go to bed and get up super early.  Buuuuuuut.....not all stores are opening at midnight, so this creates a major scheduling challenge.  We want to hit some midnight stores, but other stores we frequent (shout out to Fred Meyer's annual Sock Sale!) don't open until 5am.  We'll either have to decide to skip the midnight openings and hope for the best in the morning, or we'll hit the midnight stores, take a nap and hit the 5am and 6am stores, and then be going on very, very little sleep all day Friday.  Hmm. 

On that note, I wanted to remind everybody about Cyber Monday and the giant movement nationwide to shop small businesses this holiday season.  While I'll admit, I do shop the big box stores, I also have a list going on Etsy for other items I'm planning to gift.  I generally hit the big box stores for the generic holiday stuff (socks, flannel sheets, husband's specific University of Arizona apparel that makes it's way on his list every year), but I love shopping Etsy for the personal gifts. I also love knowing that I'm helping a small business owner.  I found *the perfect* gift for my aunt this year, and I cannot wait to see her start crying when she opens it! Where did I find it?  I found it on Etsy.  You see where I'm going with this, right? 

  All these items will be a part of the PDXEtsy sale!
To help get your Etsy-shopping gears turning, I want to share this huge news:  the PDX Etsy team is sponsoring a major Cyber Monday Sale.  Over 80 artisans in the Portland area (including me, yay!) will be offering hot deals and freebies when you enter the code PDXETSY2011 at checkout.   The wonderfully awesome Becky from Little Daisy Chains has put together the list of participating shops and the deals they will be offering, so make sure to check it out by clicking here! 

Now, while the PDXEtsy sale is officially going down on Cyber Monday (November 28, the Monday after Thanksgiving), I also want to show some love to my Black Friday shoppers, and to those supporting Small Business Saturday.  So.......for my loyal blog readers, Facebook fans, and Twitter followers, I'm going to be offering free shipping starting Thanksgiving Day all the way through the end of Cyber Monday!  That's right, you can get free shipping on all in-stock orders when you enter PDXETSY2011 - woooo hooo!!

I want to wish everybody a wonderful Thanksgiving - I have so much to be thankful for this year! 

<3 Mishelle

PDXEtsy Sale: list of participating shops:

PinkyCrafts: Free Shipping November 24 - 28 using code PDXETSY2011:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Takin' a little break - but I won't be sitting around!

I learned my lesson last year: in order to fully prepare for holiday crafts shows, you need to start several months in advance!  I should have started last month, but with everything going on, I couldn't find my motivation.  It's almost like starting a new semester in college and the professor tells you that your grade will be based on a huge paper at the end of the semester, and he advises you to start early, but nobody actually does.  Thats me - my inner professor is telling me "Start now! You swore you'd start much earlier this year than you did last year!", but my inner college student is saying "But it's still summer, it's only August!". 

My busy summer plans are coming to an end - Florida is done, family reunion in Tucson is done.  I'm hosting an out-of-state bridal shower for my cousin next month, and the search for our first home is constantly hovering over us.  I'm spending serious time searching for a new job that has more long-term potential than the one I've got now.  On top of all that, I'm determined to drop these 20 pounds that I've gained over the last year due to my crazy daily routine (or lack thereof!).

With all that looming on the horizon, I've decided to take a break from keeping up my blog for awhile - which shouldn't be surprising since I've been a big slacker at keeping it up over the last few months!  You can keep up with me through Facebook and Twitter, and you can always peek into the shop to see what's new! 

Wish me luck and lots of energy to power through my seasonal to-do list!


I will be back eventually!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bring me sand, bring me surf!

The sun sets on the Atlantic!
What's a girl to do when life feels overwhelming?  She goes on vacation.  While it wasn't actually that simple, that's just what I did. My mom has worked for the same company for nearly all my life, and she is sent to fun locations nearly every summer for their national conventions.  This year's conference was in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  My mom's husband didn't want to frolic in the Florida humidity, so she asked me to join her.  I'll admit, I almost turned down the invitation - I can't sit in one position on a cross-country flight, and I don't do well in extreme humidity....but I figured what the hell. A luxury hotel would be paid for by my mom's company, she offered to buy my ticket since hers was already paid for, and I'd never been to Florida.  The more I thought about it, how could I say no?!  I brought along one of my girlfriends from Arizona (sorry husband!), got my spray-tan on, and we were good to go. 

Boy, am I glad we did.

Jody posing with her tasty beach cocktail.
It was amazing.  Absolutely amazing.  We spent five glorious nights at the Harbor Beach Marriott - a luxury resort sitting on its own private beach.  While it was Florida's rainy season, we were lucky enough to get in some good beach time in the warm Atlantic ocean.  We played on the water taxi, we shopped, we walked miles down the beach picking up neat shells, we enjoyed yummy cocktails in our lounge chairs. I definitely needed the time to relax and worry about nothing except my tan and what I wanted to eat that night for dinner.  I'd been doing a lot of reflection lately, thinking about where I want to go with my professional life.  I had been looking for a different job that could still give me enough PinkyCrafts time, while trying to balance my personal and professional life.  Whew!  That's enough to exhaust anybody.  Just before we left, I had interviewed for a job that sounded fantastic on paper, but I ended up turning it down, and felt a bit re-committed to my current job.  I was able to go on vacation with a much clearer mind, although that doesn't mean I was excited to come back!  That's the funny thing about problems - they're always waiting for you when you get back.

An afternoon storm kicked us off the beach.
However, there is something to possibly look forward to.  I brought one of my scrapbook magazines on the airplane with me, and I flipped by this one advertisement twice before I realized what it was trying to sell me on: a Royal Caribbean Scrapbooking Cruise.  Yes, that's right.  There are CRUISES for SCRAPBOOKERS.  It's like a crop on steroids. How did I not know about this?!  It's true - just check out all of the options on Cruise & Crop.  As if a plain ole' cruise isn't enough amazingness, throw in unlimited scrapbooking, classes and goodie bags?  Count me in! Unfortunately, most of them leave from the east coast, but with enough advance notice, I could definitely see myself saving for one of these and having a fabulous time.  There are even a few that depart from Ft. Lauderdale, and I'd love to go back.

It sounds too good to be true, but I think a scrapbook cruise is definitely in my future!  Perhaps not my near future, but my future nonetheless!  Just thinking about it relaxes me...maybe I should think nothing of it until I make it happen :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is it really almost summer?

Its been nearly TWO months since I've updated my blog - where did the time go?  If you've been wondering what I've been up to, I wish I had something more exciting to tell you, but its been mostly work and little play. And a ton of soul-searching. I'm offically half-way through my 29th year, heading down the hill to my 30th birthday, and I've taken some time (ok, a lot of time) to evaluate where I'm at and where I want to go. 

Its been almost a year since I added my part-time job to the hours I'm already putting in at PinkyCrafts, and I'm just not happy there anymore. I've had trouble admitting this to the general public, as I feel like I put myself in this position, its only part-time, some folks would be happy with any job, so I should just be happy with what I've got....but its not that simple.

I've spent hours and hours thinking about this and deciding what about it doesn't fit me anymore.  I took that job because I wanted something that was relatively low-key, compared to my previous career that I ran screaming from, the career that lead to my opening PinkyCrafts.  I had wanted little responsiblity, something with limited hours, something that I enjoyed.  While I definitely don't enjoy the job anymore, I've also been mulling over whether I really enjoy doing something that doesn't challenge me.  I purposely looked for a job that I was overqualified for, but I don't think its what I want anymore. I went to college, I had a really great career.  Where did it all go?  I remind myself that I chose to get off that train, so-to-speak, I didn't fall off of it.... but I still have a hard time digesting my new reality at times. While I don't necessarially want to go back to a full-time job, I can't help but wonder if that's what I really need.  I feel like I need more structure in my life, I feel like I need to do something routine again.  I don't feel confident with my role.  I feel like people say "Oh, she's not working - she's just doing her crafts.  They talk about wanting to buy a house and travel more, but she's not even working, so she can't complain!".  I know I can't control other people's thoughts, but I can't that their opinions still matter to me.

I feel like I'm totally lacking purpose in life right now - but isn't that why I started PinkyCrafts?  Isn't that giving me purpose?  I wanted to wake up and not have to go somewhere to work, but not having someplace to go makes me feel incredibly lazy on some days, like I have no purpose. I wonder if I'd feel differently if the profits from PinkyCrafts were enough to completely support us.  If PinkyCrafts was my only responsiblity, I could spend more time creating, listing and relisting (and also have no excuse not to work harder at taking off the 20 pounds I've gained since taking this job!), which would definitely boost sales.  Would that be enough?  I guess the only way to find out would be to quit the job immediately and see....a choice I'm chicken to make. 

I wonder though - is it that I'm lacking actual purpose in my professional life, or am I feeling a void now that I'm not making the substantial salary that I once was?  Or am I not feeling validated from other people? I honestly don't know.  I was the breadwinner, I resented it, did something about it, but now I'm not feeling ok with being a financial under-acheiver either.  I know I could make so much more if I went "back to work".  I'm so blessed to make any money selling my products - and even I'm surprised at how much I make every month, but its not quite enough.

Sigh.  Whatever it is that I'm feeling, its extremely frustrating.  

Here's what I do know:  my part-time job isn't me anymore, it doesn't fit. Besides being less than challening, I'm just too old for standing on my feet for an entire 10 hour shift without being allowed to sit down; I joke with my mom that I'll need my hips replaced by the time I'm 40, but I'm secretly wondering if its true! Part-time or not, the contstant standing isn't healthy. I definitely need to spend more time with my husband when he's off work, so working weekends needs to go. I'm also not interested in being at work at 6:45am, even if its not very often, and I especially hate it on the mornings where you didn't get off until 9pm the night before. Wow - putting down what I don't enjoy really puts this into perspective; why am I still there?  I do love my co-workers, and I suspect that's what keeps a lot of us hanging on. 

So now I've come to the conclusion that this job needs to go, but I can't even define what needs to replace it, so how can I move forward?  I have found a few positions that sound challenging and that require the experience that I have, and I've applied for those.  The problem is, all of those positions are full-time, so what will that mean for PinkyCrafts?   And after you've decided to make a change, how do you keep on and still maintain your sanity while you wait for the changes to come?  With all the negativity that is surrounding me in this job, is it really worth it to stay until I figure out what comes next? 

I haven't listed a whole lot of new product over the last few weeks, and I stopped the majority of my relisting to purposefully keep sales low (which is more evidence that strategic relisting does work, since sales do slow once you stop doing it!).   I've needed a break.  I've got too much going on inside my head right now.  I've just started up the process again, as I'm taking a much-needed vacation to Ft. Lauderdale with my mom and one of my girlfriends in a few weeks, and I'm planning on putting the shop on vacation mode while I'm gone. 

I've never been a terribly patient person.  I know that eventually everything works out, but its nearly impossible to wait for that day to come.  I wish that the simple act of devoting your time to thinking hard about your future would mean that the answers to your future would come to you.  Unfortunately, its just not that easy. 

Ok universe - if you're listening - I'm looking for answers. I need to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I need to find a sense of peace in my daily world.  I need to figure this out soon, or else I'll lose my mind.  Thanks :)

See? This is what happens when you don't blog for a long time. I won't let it happen again!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Week 15 Update on The Science of Renewing Your Etsy Items

Cuff links by MetalsinTime on Etsy
 Back in February, I posted an initial update to show the amazing success I was finding by playing the Renewing Game, as outlined by my girl Steph at nerd JERK.  It has now been 15 weeks since I began renewing items at strategically planned times every day, and I wanted to see how the numbers were looking thus far. 

To review briefly, I used Google Analytics to determine when I was having the most traffic to my shop, and then I scheduled different items to renew during those times using  That's all I did.  It's that simple.  For those of you who aren't familiar with how Etsy works, when you do a search for a particular item, your search results are sorted in chronological order by the most recently listed item first.  Thus, to get the most exposure, you need to make sure your items are showing up first, and you can do this by renewing your items.  While you do pay to renew an item, the same price you'd pay to initially list an item ($0.20 per item), the return on your investment can be extremely high.

Why is this important? If you choose not to renew your items, you run the risk of falling deep in the search results and never being found.  Each listing on Etsy "buys" you 4 months time.  If you've got items in your shop that were listed 2 or 3 months ago, the odds of having those items seen can get really low.  If you're in a popular category, you might not get seen at all, as Etsy will only show the first how-many-ever thousand items in a category!

I've heard many sellers flat out refuse to renew, just because they simply don't want to spend the extra money, or feel its Etsy's way of ripping you off.  If you fall into this category, keep reading.  I've got evidence to show this renewing can actually work to your benefit!

For this comparison, I looked at the last 15 weeks that I've been strategically renewing (January 1 - April 16) to the previous 15 weeks (September 18 - December 31). 

Here are the cold, hard facts:

Item views:  increased by 161%
Revenue (aka money made!):  increased by 206%

Is that incredible, or what?! Its also interesting to note that there was 1 entire week in March where I didn't renew at all.  I was on vacation and didn't want to shut the shop down, but didn't want to encourage a high number of sales either :)

Would you like to see similar increases?  I firmly believe this will only work well for you if you have a sufficient number of items in your shop, if your item descriptions/tags are already fantastic, and if your item photos are great.  If you're already there, take notes on Steph's article, give this a shot and see where your sales go!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

PinkyCrafts is officially one!

Coconut birthday cupcake! YUM! 
Approximately one year ago, I had just moved across the country in search of something to make me happy.  I had found where I wanted to be geographically, but it was time to decide what I wanted to do to fill my time.  I had just experienced a messy break up - with my previous career.  I knew I didn't want to go back to it, but I didn't really know where else I could go.......after weeks of daily job-hunting, I knew I had to do something immediately to keep myself from dying of boredom.  I had a good friend who was selling on Etsy, and I thought that maybe I could list a few of my scrapbooks and scrapbook pages online.  When I asked her for advice, she made it clear: "It's hard work! Don't expect this to pay your bills!".  I thought, "Well, how hard can it be?  I like my products, I'm sure there is at least one person out there in the world who will like it too!".  All I wanted was to sell a few things, make a little spending money, and keep myself busy while I planned my next career move. 

I created a few new things, took some photos, and sat back to await my first customers.  It didn't take me long to realize there was a LOT more to selling online than I realized!  I had no idea how much competition there was just in my market.  I realized my photos weren't up to par. I realized I needed to get established so buyers would trust shopping with me. I realized I'd have to work extra hard at getting noticed by search engines.  I realized I had no idea what I was doing.

It became a goal of mine to be successful at this thing I originally thought was so easy.  I read every article about Etsy selling that I could get my hands on, I networked with other sellers, I joined the Etsy D-Listers Team. I learned everything I could about SEO.  I advertised on every free website I could find.  I started learning about my target market. I learned when my site received the most traffic, and where they were coming from.  I blogged.  I tweeted.  I Facebooked.  I held a sale and sponsored a giveaway. I studied keywords. I re-wrote my listings and re-tagged my items more times than I can count.  I attended Virtual Labs on Etsy, I took and re-took all my photos in every lighting condition imaginable (ok, I did this many, many times!).  I constantly worked on new products.  I basically threw my entire heart, soul, and all of my waking hours into my shop. 

4.10.10:  First Etsy Sale!  What a HORRID photo! EEK!!!
After a few months, I realized that I had put far too much effort into my little business to just keep it just a little business. I wanted to make it big; I wanted this to be my main thing.  I was having a great time learning about this new project!  I was feeling fulfilled, I had made a few sales, and I wanted more.  With the support of my husband, I decided to make it happen.  I was working harder and more hours doing this than I had been at my previous career, but I was happy - something I hadn't felt in a very, very long time.  There were, and still are, people in my life that don't understand what I'm doing or understand just how much effort goes into PinkyCrafts.  This is a real thing, I am a small business owner!

I had also realized that working from home was a little lonely. My husband found a job shortly after I opened my shop, so he was gone all day.  Its great to wake up and work in your PJs, but I could go days without needing to leave the house, and most of my conversations were between myself and my bunny!  I decided to take on a part-time job, and started working at a local pet hospital.  Originally, it was only a couple days per week, and easily fit into my life.  In recent months, I have struggled to balance that job and my business, but it's something I'm trying to address.  Part of PinkyCrafts is having a personal shopping experience, and I want to remain available to my customers!

In August, a friend of mine suggested I create a line of drink glass tags that party-goers could write their names on. Once I introduced my first two styles, my sales started skyrocketing, and I started creating all kinds of party accessories. Everything fit right into my shop philosophy: helping my customers celebrate the good times in life.

My party accessories put PinkyCrafts on the map!
Fast forward to today, and I've just celebrated my very first Etsy anniversary.  I made my goal of having 100 sales in the first year - something I am insanely proud of.  I've sold to over half of the states in the US, as well as several other countries.  I sold at two different holiday gift shows. I was featured on the Etsy Front Page in March, and I've received the most generous compliments on my work from my amazing customers. 

Several friends have asked me how to start selling online, and I see so many new sellers post for help with how to increase sales.  I always tell them the same thing:  it's so much more work than you think, but its worth it.  You get out of it exactly what you put into it. You need to be fully committed to what it is you're selling, and be ready to throw yourself into building this business.  You've got to check your fears at the door.  If you are, and if you do, and if you can, you've got a good shot! 

My goals for the next year: beat my first year sales number, in both number of sales and dollars made.  I also want to start approaching local boutiques about wholesale contracts.  I want to finally reach 100 item listings!   Most of all, I want to keep having fun and keep being my own boss.  This really is the very best job I've ever had. 

Cheers to my second year!!!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Must-Enter Giveaway!

Embroidered Kitchen Towel
One of my favorite Etsy shops is run by Christy at the Hippie Chick Boutique.  She creates all kinds of home accessories - towels and finger tip potholder mitts are her specialty right now. She's also a fantastic person, and I love supporting fantastic people.  I've got her towels in my kitchen and bathrooms, use the fingertip mitts several times a week, and have gifted towels and fingertip mitts others..  Suffice to say, I'm a fan.  When I heard that she was having an amazing giveaway, I had to shout it from the rooftops (well, not literally, I might get arrested for disturbing the peace!). 

Christy is giving away TWO items of the winners choice, including the option to do custom work.  Do you know what that means?! You get to pick two things, any two things, from her shop.  For free.  And she can embroider them for you, design something in custom colors - whatever you want.  How can you not enter this giveaway?!

Here's what you do:
1. Visit her shop, decide which item is your favorite.
2. Visit her blog, post which item is your favorite - that's 1 entry.
3. If you tell her how you found her (um, that would be from PINKY!), that's another entry.
4. If you choose to follow her blog, another entry.
Fingertip Pot Holder Mitts
5. "Like" her on Facebook, that's another entry.

In about 30 seconds, you could have at least 4 entries - I ask again: how could you not enter?!  On second thought, maybe I shouldn't share the news so I have a better chance at winning.......*grin*  Good luck to you - if one of my followers ends up winning, I want to hear about it!