Shipping

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Over the years I have read several how to articles learning the ins and outs of what works for different businesses and hand-made companies. I kept seeing a shipping station repeatedly in blogs and articles and thought it was something worth investigating a little deeper. When the Holiday Season hits for most makers it’s as if you are struggling to stay above water, especially for a one man show.

An ultimate goal of every maker is to stay organized, have fun, and love what you do. I created a shipping station OUTSIDE of my office in the garage so it was out of sight and out of mind when I was creating. When I finish an item I simply place it on the table and at the end of the day I go out and package everything up. Packaging is a job within it self (if you’re doing it properly.) It’s crucial to have something visually stimulating and exciting for your customer to open up. Often times I will go with seasons and add little trinkets, ribbons, shred, etc. This is also a branding trick and customers are more likely to remember all the extra effort you put into their order. You took the time to make it special. That is why the shipping station is so crucial it gives you time to focus on one thing….SHIPPING….

It’s a known fact most creative people are “squirrelly” type personalities, so having focus, direction, and guidance is crucial. I wish I would have started this years ago, so here I am screaming it from the ROOF TOPS – create a damn shipping station! Have all your bubble wrap, ribbons, boxes, tape, and goodies to add in all in ONE SPOT! (Also toddlers can’t steal your trinkets this way! hehe)

Now let’s get to shipping!!!!

No really…

Go Now….5.4.3.2.1.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Store run: 

  • Stalk of Celery
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1/3 cup of Olive Oil
  • 1/2 onion thinly chopped
  • 1 pound of wide egg noodles
  • 5  cups milk
  • 1 can of drained artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan

Lets get cooking ladies and gents……

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Start boiling water in a large pot and add noodles for about 2 minutes or until al dente, drain the noodles and return to the same pot.

In a separate pan heat oil in a heavy pan on medium heat. Add onions and 3 stalks of chopped celery with salt and pepper. Cook for 4-6 minutes than add in flour stirring for about a minute. Add milk until a smooth texture and let simmer for one minute.

Add mixture and noodles together. Add in tuna, artichoke hearts, and salt and pepper. Mix it up well. Place in baking dish and sprinkle over the top with parmesan! (I also added mozzarella for some extra zing!)

Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown and bubbling on top!

Enjoy~

The Moment it Happened.

December to August in my house was Chaotic, Hectic, Busy, Non Stop, and Confusing. We all hit these times in our Mommy or Career Lives where we have to sit back and pull the reigns. In my case I needed to completely halt them! I have always had goals and ways to reach them, but when you are on the move non stop with no time to be in the moment because you are consistently planning or running it makes life fly by and messy.  While running late which had become a new usual for me, on my way to football practice (which my son was begging after day 4 to not do), with the baby crying in the back from being over tired, listening to “Little Sprigs” podcast on conscious parenting and being in the moment it hit me like a TON OF BRICKS…. Not like a pillow case blow, but literally made my head hurt to the point I turned the car around. I have been running so fast for so long I am missing what is important in my life. Lets rewind a little….About 3 weeks ago, I started to get some serious anxiety just around life in general. I was like the 2-year-old that still hears back round noise and feels the ‘missing out” so can’t sleep. I had my hands in way to many jars with absolutely no direction or focus. I needed to get clarity and focus. I knew a few things so I began to write…..

  1. My children needed me to be present and not always stressed out about what was to come next. Children feed off our feelings and absolutely need us to be present and in the moment with them.
  2. I was so stressed out over work and never getting any thing done I had become in a habit of being in ‘catch up’ mode.
  3. My health and taking care of myself had become non existent and on the back burner. (I even went to the doctor thinking I was sick and got informed that stress can be hidden and sneak up on you with out you realizing it, thus showing signs your “sick.”)
  4. I was trying to be supermom, super woman, super wife, super career with no strategy or organization.

Now lets fast forward…..I started this blog over 30 days ago and have since made some serious dedication to organize and re strategize my entire existence. I failed a few times but here is a list of things that so far, have been serious game changers in balance, freedom, simplicity and over all happiness.

  • I laid out my children and I’s clothing in outfits on hangers for the entire month. No more out fit arguments in the morning, no more sweats and a tank top for me everyday. The best part…. all we do is grab a hanger and the entire outfit is ready for the day.
  • DO THE DISHES….No matter how tired you are. Do the dishes and a quick clean on your kitchen the night before. There is nothing more stressful than waking up and the first thing you think is “oh shit I have cleaning to do from yesterday.”
  • Stay on top of laundry. I have one basket in our entire house that holds exactly 1 load of laundry. When that basket is full, I take it to the washing machine, wash it, dry it, and put it on “out fit hangers” immediately.
  • Write everything down immediately. I have major mom brain and commit to a hundred different things and then forget deadlines. I have two things I write in, my planner for events and scheduling, and then a little notebook of daily to do’s in accomplishing my small and big goals. Every day I work towards something.
  • Handle it. Once. If something needs to be done, do not procrastinate just get up and handle it. Pick up the phone and handle it. Than its done and not lingering on to your next day. Something that once would take you 2 minutes turns into an hour of finding things, sorting things out, making it right. Handle it.
  • Meditate. Pray. Breathe. Repeat. – several times throughout the day.
  • Throw it away. If you havent used it in over 6 months, get rid of it. Having too much stuff makes it impossible to feel de cluttered and free.
  • Plan. Far far far in advance. I’m a dive head first type of girl so this is my biggest struggle. I had on my to do list to plan my September Palette & Paint class. Instead….I planned the dates and booked the location through January. This creates more room and freedom with 1 phone call and a contract.
  • Check List. I Framed cute little Morning and Evening to do’s for my littles so they know whats happening and when it’s happening. Children thrive on STRUCTURE.

These few little things have helped me in a big way over the past month and I hope you can take just one thing that helps you too live more balanced and happy!

#momminainteasy

 

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When I first started Etsy & Instagram Marketing in 2014, I was an owner of a failing business, in the negative, drowning in debt, and completely miserable with no passion, confidence or direction! Today my Etsy business made $40,000 last year and my Instagram just hit 10,000 followers! I’m not saying this to brag by any way, shape, or form. Being humble and thankful is everything to me.

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I do, however, want to offer some inspiration and motivation to the person who is down on themselves thinking they can never follow their passion. You can!!!!! Once you find your nitch, follow it! From the beginning I knew I loved art. I attempted being a make up artist because this is what every women in my family does, so naturally I followed steps…. However I knew traveling and working with high maintenance clients was not my cup of tea. I still do makeup and love certain events and styles, however my two passions in life are being a mother and HomeDesign – Art.

I knew somehow in this lifetime I needed to follow this path. For me, it was Etsy that was my starting point. I began to meet these amazing clients who I grew relationships with and they came back! I started truly connecting with each and every one of my instagram followers and not treating them like strangers but truly trying to connect with them as a wife, as a mom, as an artist. I want to help people succeed from the bottom of my heart.

Enough of my sappy story…. Lets get in to what you really want to hear….How did I do it? Etsy is for another post but tonight I want to focus on what I wish I knew about Instagram Marketing years ago….

Instagram-strategies

  • Connect : Do not just post what you do… Post who you are.. We are human. We need human connection. Give people sneak peeks into your life. What are your hobbies? Who are you? Who is your family? Whats your office look like? Include people in the day-to-day.
  • Timing….Is everything yo! I used to post at these random times, than I learned that there are prime posting times! WHHHAATTTTTTT…Ok ready for the crazy part…There all at night.(Normally past my bedtime!) Prime time for posting is between 7-10 p.m. when people are winding down scrolling on IG.
  • Hash Tags: ######hashtags for days….. On a serious note. If you hit for example #mom and look in the top right hand corner the most popular used hash tags will pop up under mom. (Click on the first 5 than move to the next word.)
  • Don’t be Snooty: ALWAYS REPLY….. If someone gives you a compliment or ask a question, REPLY! If there is no connection, no one will want to follow you. People need that “online connection” to feel like your noticing them.
  • Follow people to get follows: This one confused me at first, but REALLY is a genuine way to get organic followers. Type in people who interest you in the search button on instagram. The most followers….FOLLOW. People will than start to follow you back. I try to follow at least 10 new people a day who inspire me. (Not to mention when scrolling instagram you than have a feed full of motivation and inspirational people.)
  • Be Authentic: This goes back to Dr. Suess…*yes that happened* “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er then you!” Just be yourself, and the right followers and collabs just all fall into place.

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I hope these tid bits help you a tad on your journey to success! A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who is along this dream chasing ride with me! Life is too short to do anything but what your heart calls. Never let fear stand in your way!

Made With Love Market 8-30

Turn Around Time and Customer Service

The average turn around time with an Etsy seller is 7-14 business days. My average turn around time is 2-7 days. The most pressure I put on my shop is in this department. In today’s time it seems customer service is something so far gone that when people find it they cherish it and want to return for more.

The amazing thing with a hand crafted business is building relationships with your customers and so they want to continue to go to your shop because at this point and all the hard work you have put in, they know you, they know your story. The biggest selling point of a hand crafted business is details. Little Details.

I let customers know immediately after a purchase how much I appreciate their hard earn dollars being spent in my shop and thank them for supporting my dream. As I am making their items I keep in constant contact with them so they know where there order is in the process of creating. Before I ship their item I send them a final thank you again and ask for their approval before shipping to make sure I didn’t miss any thing. (Common times you will miss something small to add or customize and your time is valuable, so these steps help in not only saving you a second shipping fee but also the hard hours that go into creating each piece.)

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Lets hit some key points of EXCELLENT customer service.

  • Answer promptly to all emails.
  • Answer with a smile. Friendly, happy to help, and eager to learn about what your customer needs.
  • Most people do not read the descriptions, so if they ask a question, like how many ounces a mug is, answer them instead of referring them to your description.
  • Send a package swoon worthy. You want people to brag about you to their friends, to smile when they first open up the package! Make it pretty, get creative and have fun with this step! 
  • Create positive reviews – Your shop depends on the 5 star reviews. Doing the above will help to ensure you receive these. A lot of people do not leave any reviews, do not take this personally, they are just busy and don’t read the “after review” email Etsy sends out! The simple and sweet emails they send saying Thank you I love it I will occasionally throw on my instagram stories showing people snippets of my work life! (Social Media Marketing.)

Now to the dreary and dreaded….The people you can never please. There out there. You will not make every encounter happy. There will come a time and a place someone will be unsatisfied you chose pink instead of yellow tissue paper. *sarcasm here* They Sting.

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Don’t stress about it too much. Don’t curl up in a ball with ice cream and empty your tissue box for it, although being real I may have done this once. JUST ONCE. Even the most successful people receive bad reviews. It all boils down to human nature that we can not please everyone and certain souls just do not jive. DO NOT ANSWER UNTIL THE NEXT DAY….Promptness goes bye bye in a negative situation. Let your self find a solution that you know is your best. Offer to make something new and free to them, Offer a Refund. If these things do not defuse the situation, there is a reply section on the Etsy Reviews for anything under 3 stars you can publicly respond with how you tried to come to a solution and offer excellent customer service. A buyer wants to be ensured if a hiccup happens you are the type of character to stand by your word and fix the problem. With a hand crafted business the customer is always right. By then, you will already think more clearly and your writing will be less affected by your emotions.

Learn. A negative review often reveals imperfections in your shop which you can grow to adapt your products, process, shipping,  accordingly for a more efficiently ran shop. Trial and Error my friends! For example, when I first started doing vinyl and hand painted I would make sure to label my description which it was. I made a deer coffee mug for $14.00 out of vinyl and sealed it and shipped it all pretty. I have had several 5 star ratings on this EXACT item, personally I think its cute as a button. Then came….we will call her Jane…..Jane was not happy and short from the beginning. She was buying this as a mediocre fathers day gift because she was mad at her dad and did not want to spend over $15 on him. (This is the story she tells me.) I had a feeling she might not be my picture perfect client. None the less I did my deal and tried to remain positive and light along the way. When review time came 1 star with horrible things to say about the mug. (Al though she sent me an email shortly after thanking me for such an affordable cute gift.) Once I replied attaching our emails she immediately deleted her review. This was my ice cream in a ball night.

You can’t expect everyone to know the heart, blood, sweat, and tears that go into a hand crafted, or at that, any entrepreneur type business. You answer to you. There is no 9 – 5, clock out clock in. It is up to you the amount of your success.

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The solution to an imperfect situation is very personal. You have to decide what is right for your business. Do not always feel pressured to cancel and refund the customer though. We can become so scared about the bad review that “teach” the customers it is OK to simply complain and get their money back, even sometimes without returning the product. FREEBIE!!! Who wouldn’t complain just to get the goods free of cost? This does not guarantee a change in the review anyway. First, try to resolve the problem with the customer if possible through the conversations app. Take responsibility where needed.

 

We will use my son’s school motto to close this out, because really, keep it simple.

Be Kind, Work Hard, Do Your Best.

– Treat people the way you would want to be treated in a business setting. Go above and beyond to make sure each client feels like the King or Queen that she or he is! Know that they work just as hard for their dollar as you do for yours and they are choosing to spend that money with your business!