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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New year, new banner!

You may remember how much I agonized over changing my banner last summer; would you believe that I'm already tired of it?!  I decided it was time for a little change, but I kept most of the elements. 

I was getting tired of the green background, but still wanted a little pop of green.  I debated on having the off-set text, but I think it makes it a little more visually appealing!  

What do you think?  Is a little change a good thing?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Long time, no see.....

I promised my friend Amy that I'd post something that appealed to the masses, so here's my attempt at doing so!  You can only get away with posting links to other blogs for so long; its definitely time for some original content.

It's been a very busy few months, but I'm sure most of you can say the same.  I finished up craft show season (thank goodness), and have set my sights on entering the wholesale market.  I'm coming up on my one-year business anniversary - the end of March - and sales have been pretty steady.  It makes me absolutely gleeful to contribute a good chuck of change to the joint bank account that I share with my husband, because honestly, I still feel guilty that I'm no longer the breadwinner in our family.  I was making a very comfortable living at my previous career, and while I've taken a part-time job in another field to cushion to financial blow, I'm still only making about 40% of what I was before.  And there are times when I don't feel good about that.

Before I started this endeavor, before I committed to being a business owner with all my heart, my husband and I had a very long discussion about whether or not this dream of mine could be a reality. The conversation was short on my husband's part, as his only contribution was "Do it. I just want you to be happy", while I kept making points on how different our financial situation would become, what luxuries in life we could (likely) no longer afford.   Most people work their tails off at their handmade business in hopes of quitting their day job; I had already quit mine!  Note: I did not quit my day job with the hopes of striking Etsy gold; I hadn't even considered opening up shop at the time I decided to leave my career.

While we've revisiting the topic several times over the last 10 months, my husband still says he wants me to be happy and hasn't asked me to rejoin the full-time working population.  I sometimes wonder if my happiness comes at a high price: his happiness.   There are difficult days when he lets it slip that he misses the days when we had a lot more money, when we didn't have to worry so much about staying on budget, when we could travel more without passing out over the cost of airfare.  I think he just has bouts of homesickness and wants to visit home, but forgets how miserable we actually were back then. Then he'll say that he realizes that money can't buy happiness, and we made these changes in our life knowing what we were getting into. All in all, I don't think he'd want it any other way for me, and I think that makes him content.  Especially after one particularly scary evening - back when we were still staying in the hotel waiting for our apartment to be ready - when I practically hyperventilated while bawling and screaming that I couldn't go back to my career, no matter what.  While it was not an intentional ploy to keep my business dream alive, I think it did the trick! 

What does all this mean?  Why am I going on and on about this?  It brings me to my current life challenge: trying to balance my marriage, my health and fitness goals, my shop, and my outside job.  I spend nearly every free minute working on my business, because I feel guilty if I don't.  I started to really despise my outside job because I was being scheduled for substantially more hours than I had thought I'd be working. I feel that if I'm not working on my shop, I'm not making money.  And if I'm not making money, I'm not pulling my weight.  Ok, so I can get sales while I'm sleeping or watching TV, but I can't add new products or improve my shop while doing those things.   While I do make money at my outside job, I essentially have unlimited income potential with my shop, but I can only get out of it what I put into it. 

I really need to find a balance and let the other aspects of my life in.  Over the last few weeks, I've accepted the fact that despite my asking, I will always have more hours at my outside job than I'd like; apparently they meant to tell me I'd be working 3/4 time instead of part-time.  While this definitely takes away from my free time and energy to work on my shop, I've started to really enjoy my job, now that I don't feel like it's keeping me from something more important (although I definitely do feel that way on difficult days!!).  I've just accepted it and moved on.

The area I'm most neglecting is my health and fitness.  I was really overweight several years back, and had managed to keep off 60ish pounds until last summer, until I let my business take over my life.  Instead of getting in my morning run, I'd dive into my business to-do list.  Instead of eating healthy snacks, I filled up on sugar and junk.  The result?  I've definitely put on a few pounds, and my jeans are begging me to get on the treadmill again!  I've had a few good weeks of regular exercise and healthy eating again, and I already feel lots better, but its always frustrating when it takes a lot longer to drop the weight than it did to put it on. 

I suppose I'm a little farther along on the path to finding balance than I thought, but I'm nowhere near where I should be.  Its really funny how I have less free time now than I did when I was working at my full-time job.   It's also funny how people don't realize just how much effort one must put into an online business in order for it to be successful.  I know I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't thrown myself into it with everything I had, but I hope I haven't gotten so sucked in that I let everything else get out of control!  I think I had a self-intervention before it got that bad, and I hope I can continue making progress, while I continue making good sales and working with fantastic customers.  That is why I continue to do this.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

More on the science of renewing your Etsy items....

Its a new year, and I'm hoping you are all making the most of it so far!  I have definitely neglected my blog, but I wanted to pop in quickly and share an amazing article with you Etsy sellers out there.

Mini BobOmb by nerdJERK
The author is an Etsy teammate of mine and an amazing shop owner, nerdJERK.  When I first met Steph, she was itching to break her shop full of geeky awesomeness into serious sales and has become uber successful - in what seems to be a very short time (although she would probably disagree!).  I feel like I can say "I knew her when!", but seriously, her story is really inspiring.  She did her own experiment on the item renewal concept, and was kind enough to share her results with the rest of us, including how you can find the same success she has found. 

She increased her page views by about 500% just by being smart about her renewal process, using several free seller tools websites.  Sound interesting?  Go check out her article, and the rest of her blog too!  If you're interested in her geekery, like this cute mini BobOmb, check out her shop!