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~

Simplicity.

We as humans always want “more”. If I only had this I would be happy. If I only got this promotion I would be satisfied. If only I made this income I would be excited.

Stop.

Just Stop.

Be Happy Right Now. Right Where Your Life Has Brought You. Keep it Simple.

Do you want something different? Do Something Different. 

I made it a life, mom, and wife goal this year to straight up simplify. To be blunt. We had too much shit. 20 pots & pans (4 of which we used), clothing of littles I was saving as memories, clothing my booty has not fit into in 4 years, sippy cups with no lids, towels which did not match, I hated it….Literally the little things were driving me to a breaking point. After we remodeled I knew it was the perfect moment to get rid of every thing but what we needed. (I still had hand me downs from my first apartment okayyyy?!) So I said these simple words. 

I AM TAKING CHARGE OF MY LIFE.

I found hacks for organizing every single aspect of every single room and square foot of our home.

It’s important to ask yourself these simple questions before you begin this giant purge…..

  • Have I touched it in 6 months.
  • Is it useful?
  • Does this need to be replaced?
  • Does this match the end result I’m dreaming of?

If no to any of these questions! Toss it! Start fresh.  Get minimal. Become Thankful.

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

pst……(Organizing hacks for EACH ROOM OF YOUR HOME is our next series) eeeeeekkkkk!!! ok get excited hit that little share button, because good stuff is coming your way~

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!

21 Day Mom Challenge

Mom funk. You hear about it. Have you ever experienced it? Since I was a little girl my dream was to be a stay at home with my babies. I had it all planned out on my goal list at 10. By 21 I would be married, 22 have first baby, 23 own first home. (At the time I thought 21 was 40.) My goal list wasnt quit to par….

How ever, when I got the opportunity of being a work at home mom when my daughter was born I never realized the mom funk you can slip in. We have no baby sitters, as both my husband and I’s family live out-of-state. With that being said I have little relations with adults unless it’s through an Etsy email, a pickup/drop off at school, or a sporting event.

I asked a stranger at the grocery store a few months ago if he needed a band-aid for his boo boo when he cut his finger opening a box. I wouldn’t change my life for the world. I’m blessed and thankful every day, I go to have a mommy pedicure once a year and find myself rushing back home to be with my children. With that all being said….I got tired….I got frumpy….Being a stay at home mom is the HARDEST JOB IVE EVER HAD. There are no lunch breaks, drive homes, days off, or mommy dates. I am on from the minute I wake up til the minute I lay my head down. I thought I had this amazing system down…..than I started to realized I was off-balance…

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.I wake up around 6:30 when my kids wake up, make breakfast, run my son to any sporting, or event he has/ or school during the year, come play and chase my toddler, practice potty training, take her to dance, music, and gymnastics, nap time, than nap time hustle and bust out Etsy Orders, my volunteer obligations, phone calls, etc. in the down time, when she wakes up we pick my son up from school, do after school snacks and home work, play out side, make dinner, than do bath time, stories, bedtime. I’m assuming the other millions of stay at home moms have a schedule similar to this. Than BOOM I started to get this panicky feeling like I was drowning on a hamster wheel and failing just everywhere. (This was all in my head of course) but felt REAL none the less.

Than I realized I have no time for my self…That was no ones fault but my owns… I started really pondering where I could create more time to gain some sanity, and a few key things came to mind.

  • I was sleeping in to the last bitter second when my kids woke up.
  • I hadn’t put make up or an out fit that didn’t have at least 90% spandex 10% cotton on in over 6 months. i.e. yoga pants.
  • I had stopped working out or doing any thing for myself, besides mommin, wifing, and working.

It was time for a change. An internal mommy makeover. 

It dawned on me a few weeks ago. What type of example am I setting to my children by not taking care of myself? By running my self into the ground? By constantly having someone ask me for something, and always saying yes?

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I challenged myself and I want to challenge you! Maybe you will laugh at me, or maybe you will say YES THATS ME!!!! (I am hoping obviously we go with option B.)

  • Shower every day. (Dont be shy moms… we all know you don’t) That 20 minute break can be pure bliss. 
  • Put makeup on every. single. morning. even if your rushed! 5 minutes to look in the mirror and say I look presentable and not like I just rolled out of bed. 
  • Make at least 4 hours a week dedicated to working out. Going for a bike ride with my kids, a walk with the dog, an early morning of home work outs. SOMETHING TO MOVE YOUR BODY.
  • Wake up at least 1 hour before my children to have some mommy self time in the mornings. 

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These few simple things in just a few weeks have been changing my life. It takes 21 days to break a cycle or habit of schedule. Here is my 21 day challenge! LOVE YOURSELF MOMMIES! You work hard and are not underappreciated! Mom funks are NORMAL and all of us struggle at one point or another! Parenting is a journey that is rewarding, challenging, and builds us into a stronger character than we ever thought we could be. Your cup must be full to make sure your families gets filled daily! 

 

 

Love Yourself

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Moms!?! How often are you so busy getting your kids ready in the morning you completely let your morning routine go by the wayside?  The constant fights, the struggle, the BRUSH YOUR TEETHE NOW moments? I used to shave my legs at least every other day….Now its once a week and I’m feeling like a super mom when that happens! Or putting on makeup? Like a full face, HELLO WORLD, makeup? ummmm like never? I look in the mirror many days and think what happened? I have purple under my eyes? I have wrinkles in between my forehead? Am I grumpy? What the actual hell? Than I get gratitude…. I have these awesome little people who not only make my heart burst at the seams but make my face look 10 years older….

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I have come up with a 5 minute make up routine that WORKS! On the days your rushing, which lets be real, is 99.9% of the time, these are my GO TO cosmetics that make me look alive and together! I had a beautiful soul, and teacher approach me on her lip products, which normally I would push to way side but I tried this, and Oh Em GEE, I literally was super mom and felt GOOD about myself ALL DAY! So Lets Dive Right In……

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  • Bad Gal Mascara – Volumize lashes in literally 2 seconds. (Ipsy)
  • Tarte Face Powder – Eliminates all wrinkles and darks circles immidiately. (Ulta)
  • Lip Sense – Neutral Tone LAST ALL DAY!!!! (Susan Heath) sheath@centurylink.net, this woman is amazing. I love meeting people through social media marketing that are just Kick Ass Women! IG @mslipboss FB Lips and Lashes that Last

I literally feel like me again when I follow these three super simple quick hacks! I have searched high and low for products that actually WORK and last til dusk and these my friends are the WINNER! I hope this helps the mommy routine be a little smoother for you! Remember in order to fill cups, your cup must be full! Ladies…We have some cup filling to accomplish…Treat Yourself!

Made with Love Market 7-30

Social Media Marketing

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Social Media in today’s day and age is EVERYTHING. Yellow pages have gone by the way side and Social Media is a free and easy way to reach your target audience with grace and truly connect to people about your hand crafted business. We are going to go over some key points in reaching your target audience and how to launch your hand crafted business to the next level!

  • Instagram – 1-2 post per day MAX. Include tags. You can use these in several different ways. Example: I absolutely #love the #lavender details of these #diecuts I just posted on #etsy. Example 2: I absolutely love the lavendar details of these diecuts I just posted on Etsy. *In the comment section add #lavendar #diecuts #etsy. This is where you want to keep close attention to whats trending….For example type #etsy and look to see what pops up and how many people have “posted” this. Hash tag what is being posted the most and this is a “trend”. Time of posting is EVERYTHING on Instagram. Here is a basic time to get the maximum amount of likes on your Instagram.  Monday 5-6 pm, Tuesday 7-8 pm, Wednesday 10-11 pm, Thursday 5-6 pm, Friday 5-6 pm, Saturday 8-9 pm, Sunday 7-8 pm. Make sure to explore other brands and people who inspire you and follow them. Watch what they are doing and follow the example.

 

  • Facebook – 2-5 post per day about what you’re doing, how it looks, what you’re creating, your life. People want glimpses of not only your business but WHO YOU ARE. Create sharable content with a broad target audience, DIY Videos can help you attract a larger network of followers and potential new customers.

 

  • Pinterest – SHARE EVERYTHING! There is a link on your Etsy page for every item you add where you can share. One of the links is Pinterest. Every single listing needs to be shared to Pinterest for more visualization of what you are making and doing.

 

  • Twitter – “Twitter allows for instant conversation,” explains Michelle Reaney of Toronto-based shop Thunderpeep Designs, who uses her handle, @thunderpeep, to share short updates with her followers in 140 characters or less.One of the most useful Twitter features for a business owner looking to make connections and promote her shop is the hashtag, a word or phrase marked with the # symbol, such as #handmade or #EtsySeller. “On Twitter, hashtags are used to categorize posts by topic or keyword,” explains Jessica Ulrich, a social media manager at Etsy, “clicking a hashtag will display every tweet that includes that tag.”

    To get started developing content, jot down a list of the types of posts you would like to share over the next month, suggests Jessica. This can include general categories, like inspiration or behind-the-scenes, or more specific items like the launch of a new product or holiday promotions. Once your list of ideas is complete, plot your posts on a calendar. – Kathy Svehaug

  • Little Tid Bits –  You do have a handmade business so get creative with just that…MARKETING….Create coupon codes and fun giveaways that you do when you reach different milestones or months. Be precise and unique with your packaging so people remember you and want more. Plan at least 45-50 days in advance for the next holiday so you can get ahead of the game and not feel pressured when the holiday arises!
  • What is Working and What is Not?

    Every like, comment or click could give you amazing insight for your social media marketing. Think about how you can effect your target audience and read all the “analysis” opportunities that each outlet provides you. Ask engaging questions and make your audience feel a part of your experience and life. Play with different words and phrases to see what works and what doesn’t. Use all the tools in your tool belt such as Facebook Insightsbit.ly and Iconosquare to figure out what is working and what is not!

Week 7 Challenge – Create 2 social media outlets SPECIFICALLY FOR YOUR BUSINESS. Start posting daily and using the reccomended settings and watch how much your following grows!!!!! Happy Mediaing!images (1)

Made With Love Market 6-30

The Secrets of Editing and Flatlays….From an I Phone.

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Pictures are absolutely EVERYTHING my friends…Everything! I want to share with you all my secret tips, tricks, and fails to avoid! Pictures display your work in the most important way. Photos are the only way a client can reach, touch, see your product before it is in their hands! You have to make your product appear to be something they can not live without! So lets get started at square one….

When I first started Etsy my pictures looked a little something like this.

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Now that same listing looks like this….

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We will go ahead and start at square one! LIGHTING IS EVERRRRRYYYYTTTHHHHING! Natural lighting is the BEST! I take anything I can outside to photograph before editing, for the simple reason you just cant beat natural light! Shadows and wrinkles are a huge NO NO NO!!!!

I’m a fire wife with 2 busy little ones and so where ever and when ever I can get work helpers I do! SelfMade is my secret to SUCCESS! When I first began Etsy, I knew nothing of business, let alone running a hand crafted business while balancing mommyhood! Selfmade has saved me hundreds of hours with their picture editing program they offer! I take natural, bright, fun, flat lays and they edit and return to me! You do have to be at a certain “volume” business wise for them to accept you, but when you get to this volume I highly suggest this company as it has been a LIFE SAVER for me.

When shooting on your I PHONE make sure that you are outside or in great light, think about wrinkles, angles, props you can use to boost your products necessity to your customer.

Happy Snapping My Friends!

Week 6 Challenge – Change 4 of your listings to higher quality photos with props, lighting, and angles to make it more interesting! Submit your before and afters to courtney@thesweetestlittlelife.com and the most dramatic difference will receive some goodies and be announced on the blog in week 7! 

Made With Love Market 4-30

Pricing 

Supplies + Your Time = Item Cost

Item Cost x Markup (between 2.0 – 2.5 or more) = Wholesale Price

Wholesale Price x Markup = Retail Price

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DO NOT SELL YOUR SELF SHORT!!! You are amazing. You are talented. You are straight up just awesome! As an owner of a handcrafted business you 1 are talented and 2 have taken a huge launch into entrepreneurship! Do not sell your self short! This is the biggest fail I see amongst new hand-made businesses! You want to compete with Wal-Mart Prices…. Let me break something down for you.

  • Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people. To give you an idea of just how many people who is, Idaho, the 39th most populous state, is home to 1.4 million people.
  • Wal-Mart had sales of $312.43 billion in its most recent fiscal year, which ended January 31, 2006. By comparison, the second-largest retailer in the country, Home Depot, posted sales of $81.5 billion.
  • Wal-Mart has 6,200 retail outlets. In contrast, Home Depot has 2,040.

I’m guessing you are 1 maybe a team of 2 people? You do not own a store front but work from a craft room, or labor of love area of your home, and you do not own 6200 retail stores? Am I righhhht?????

You have to not only charge for what you pay for product, but for your time….How much do you want to earn per hour? The beauty of owning your own business is deciding your salary. When I first started my Etsy I was comparing my Coffee Mugs to Target prices…Around $9.50 per mug…. I was constantly frustrated with why I was making no money and breaking even! WELL DUH>>> IM NOT TARGET! I was working my ass off on making the perfect gift for people and getting burnt out! I than raised my prices 3 years later last christmas to $16.50  a mug because I followed the formula listed above….Guess what happened? I thought for sure, I would get slow for Christmas and my sales Quadrupled…How this happened? I have no idea. I just know I believed in my product and what I was doing and knew I was worth more!!!! My family was worth more! Shipping will be an entire different blog and I wanted to keep tonight short and sweet, but think long and hard about what things cost you to make a product, how much time is contributed to that product, and than times that by 2. That should be your total price per item on Etsy.

WEEK FOUR CHALLENGE: LIST 10 NEW ITEMS AND CREATE APPROPRIATE PRICING WITH NO FEAR OF REJECTION. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, BELIEVE IN YOUR PRODUCT, KNOW THAT YOU ARE AMAZING FOR STARTING YOUR DREAM. download