Sunday, October 25, 2015

Whining About Social Media...Again

Facebook Idea???
Last weekend I got so tired of spending my Sundays working on social media that I did absolutely nothing. It is time to rethink my social media plan.


After a few week of tracking, I can see that time spent on Pinterest seems to pay off the best.  I'm slowly managing to pick up followers, and I could actually stand to put in a little more effort to accelerate that process. It's kind of like instant gratification since everything I do seems to work in terms of bringing more people to my shops or following new people to get them to follow me - I just need to do a little more of it. No complaints there...


So from the best to the worst - Facebook is definitely my worst. Granted a lot of that is my fault since I don't particularly like the idea that people are "notified" every time I add an update. Sure it would be easy enough to add product information, but I know I wouldn't want to see continual advertising popping up on my feed, so I don't want to go there except for to call attention to occasional new items that I think people would find interesting. Etsy has lots of advice in that area, and they agree that the "sell, sell, sell" approach is annoying. They suggest posting more informational types of content to break up the advertising. I could post photos of shoelaces-in-progress or the crazy piles of orders I have to get out the door each  morning. I've got nowhere to go but up with Facebook, and I seem to be getting enough views now that it would be worth getting that one figured out.

A.L. Theboupro Blog

This blog was setup to be more of an as-needed way to organize my thoughts with everything I've got going on (like I'm doing now!), so my attempt to turn it into a scheduled weekly process doesn't make sense.  That's an easy one to fix.

Lost in Lace Blog

This one is a serious PITA, and I don't know where I got it in my head that I needed to add a post every week. It's not really the kind of blog that a person would follow, and the only real followers I'm after with this blog are Googlebots. It's a good way to point folks to my shoelace shops when they do internet searches for information. Maybe someone searching will find a particular article helpful, but I doubt many people would be interested in every article out there. I know if I'm reading a one-off blog article, I  just prefer to see that articles have been written in the last few weeks to know the blog is being maintained. When the last article was written in 2007, I have to wonder if there is better information to be had. It's certainly not a problem to add a post every few weeks - I can handle that.

Gawking Not Shopping Blog

I completely got myself off track with this one. I'm supposed to be updating this one as I do research on Etsy, and now I find myself saving links as I do research, so I can post everything on Sundays. How stupid is that?  I added dates to the tops of the pages, so I can change them each time I edit them. Again, as long as I'm updating them regularly, it doesn't need to be a scheduled process. One way or the other I'll do research on Etsy, so I know the pages will always get updated if I just do it the way I planned to do it (i.e. the way I used to do it before I got carried away with scheduling things).


Tumblr is a little difficult since it isn't setup for adding lots of content. I'm seeing almost no hits on my sites from my Tumblr account. The more I think about Tumblr, the more I'm inclined to just post best-selling items or anything I expect will get a lot of interest. I'll keep playing with that one here and there to see if I can pick up on any trends to accentuate, but I've got nothing to work with so far.

At the moment these are the only social mediums that are taking up my time. Hopefully a less scheduled approach to the blogs will keep me out of this time-consuming Sunday rut. I can't be spending so much time on blogs! It looks like Pinterest will get a little more time, and Facebook just needs to get some time...anything at all would be good there -ha! Alright, so here we go with the "new" social media plan.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Managing the Pace

When I would take an occasional week of vacation from my day job, I'd spend the entire week frantically trying to accomplish some things for my side businesses. It was usually a bit of a relief to get back to work to switch to a more normal pace after those kinds of "vacations". With my day job only being officially gone for a week now, I went into vacation mode without even realizing it, and I'm pretty much exhausted today. I'll need to consciously set a reasonable pace next week before I make myself sick. I can only laugh since planning how to do that took me awhile.

One thing I can do is stop myself and go for a walk, and that would be a good habit to get back into...I keep saying that, but I'm not doing a great job of doing it. I took the picture above on my walking path today, and it will be beautiful in a few more weeks. It's always fun to walk with leaves bouncing off of my head, so hopefully that will help encourage me. I think they say it takes 29 days to form a habit, so I've got a few more days to go on that one.

I'm also thinking I need to schedule in a few things around the house that will get me out of the frantic work mode. Next week the plan is to get my indoor plants cleaned up and ready for winter (I literally have 100+ plants in the house, so that's a major project), then I need to go all out on the Halloween decorations this year, and it wouldn't hurt to tackle a cleaning project or two. It also dawns on me that I could make some bath bombs (I make the world's best bath bombs if I do say so myself) and take a bath or two during the week. I've got large windows surrounding my tub, so I'll bet I won't have any trouble convincing myself to do that as the leaves start to turn.

Well, I  guess that wasn't so hard after all. Now I just have to make myself stick to the plan. We'll see how I do. :)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Quit Your Day Job

For those of us who shop or have shops on Etsy, we've all seen Etsy's aspirational "Quit Your Day Job" slogan from their blog. As of this week, I have officially done just that and can focus solely on my shops and my new social media sites. I have the plan outlined for the next couple of years, and during that time I hope to add more of my designs (particularly jewelry!) that I've never had time to bring to my shops as well as to share more and better information on my sites and blogs. I can't wait to get started, so I won't! Of course the Novapsis shop is still the primary focus for the moment to get plenty of products ready for the holidays. As far as social media goes, I think the best part will be having all week to work on posts/pins/updates rather than trying to cram everything into Sundays. It will be interesting to see how much I'll really stick to my outlined plan, but I have to start somewhere even if I wind up making drastic changes as I go.

The weird part now is going to be missing my old job. Since my vacations have always been devoted to working on my businesses rather than actually taking a break, I'm hoping that this coming week feels like a vacation, and I'm not missing my job. Last week was so awful saying goodbye to people I've known for nearly 17 years, and I'm the worst at keeping in touch with people. It's just an overwhelming feeling of loss at the moment.

What I didn't expect was to be so comfortable and confident with the go-forward plan. I figured I'd be trying to fight back some fear about now, but it seems like I've got plenty of time to accomplish everything. It didn't hurt that I've been inundated with orders all week either -ha! It's pretty much just as I'd hoped it would feel; I'm in charge, and who better than me to make it happen? There's going to be a lot of work and of lot of excitement ahead, but I'm more than ready!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Almost October

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As much as I love September, I love October even more. I'm not much of a seasonal decorator, mostly because I don't like taking decorations down (or more accurately, I don't take them down in a timely manner), but I do usually put up some Halloween decorations.

I used to get a pumpkin at the store every year to carve into the standard face shape, but the past few years my husband has been growing a patch of jack-o-lantern pumpkins for me instead. That's so much better than just one pumpkin when I can arrange them into cute little groups around the porch and in the house. I haven't actually been carving any since then, but I'm thinking about doing one of those shaved-type designs this year. They have those pricey little "kits" that didn't appeal to me, but then I read an article where they used a linoleum cutter to make all of the nice cuts and realized my linoleum cutter would be perfect for that. Now that I know I've got the right tools, it might be too tempting to pass up this year. I just need to think of a good design to a few weeks to think on that one...

A couple of years ago I got a fogger machine that uses regular tap water and electricity to make a not-so-little witch's cauldron, and even my husband thinks it's pretty cool, so I'll be doing that for sure. I'm also a candle fanatic (fanatic might be an understatement), so of course there are all kinds of Halloween candles along with various other decorations. I had to resist the urge to get more decorations this year, but OMG they have some of the cutest things out there!  I won't even get started on my wish list for Halloween decorations, but I will say that those white candles that drip red wax are on top of the list.  Maybe next year I'll have less will power and will finally break down and add to my decor. This year I think I'll just stick with all of the fun stuff I already have, and it is always fun!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Lots of Pieces Still Coming Together

These weeks just seem so extreme.  Between the sadness of winding down at my day job, the stress (good stress!) of trying to fill orders and build up new inventory and then the fun of fall activities, all I can do is try to enjoy as many minutes as possible and not stop and think about it too much. So many things are a work-in-progress such that I haven't hit any big milestones for a while, and the next milestones seem far enough in the future that it's hard to keep focused on them mentally even though my physical activities are organized around them.

As I write down my thoughts for the week, I always try to think of a picture that summarizes everything, but I'll have to stop and think about that for a minute since nothing seems obvious...hmmm... Maybe an empty bottle of wine? Just kidding...  How about a project that looks the way I feel?  That's it.

Soooo the project above was almost done, but it suffered some damage when it got knocked off of the wall. I hadn't even gotten a frame on it yet! Anyway, all of the missing/bent pieces and raw edges don't look great right now, but it is really close to getting all fixed up and looking just as I've planned. I simply have to keep working on it. And I really do need to keep working on it since it's no doubt trying my husband's patience for me to have that ladder in the middle of the hallway all of the time -ha!

I guess life is too short to get stuck anywhere for too long, but I'm making progress, and I'm very happy with the way things are going. If things seem "all over the place" it doesn't really help to dwell on how uncomfortable that feels, and there are a lot of other things to be enjoying more...but maybe a little less wine this week. ;)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

I Just LOVE This Time of Year

September Sunrise

I noticed the grocery store had Halloween candy in stock before Labor Day this year, which seemed a little early. Then I started getting catalogs in the mail with Halloween decorations and other autumn decor. Last weekend when I was looking at finds for my Gawking Not Shopping blog, Etsy was overflowing with new seasonal items to post. This week I read a news article that said Americans are officially obsessed with anything in "Pumpkin Spice" right now. Finally this weekend has been quite chilly, and that's the last straw for me - I can't wait any longer for fall to arrive!

Where does all of the glory of autumn end? As I continue working on my new jewelry collection, I'm intentionally creating designs that are ideal for working on while I'm watching football. During halftime this afternoon I can help my husband harvest the dozens of beautiful jack-o-lantern pumpkins he kindly grew for my enjoyment. We're just starting to see the birds at our feeders transition from the spring/summer species to the fall/winter species, and I swear the sunrises are better this time of year. Soon it will be cold enough to light fires in the evening too. Living out in the country, we don't even need to rake the leaves; we just sit back and watch them fall. And then there's all of those comfy sweaters to wear...OK, I'll stop there, but I could go on forever.

Now I  get to hop over to my Gawking Not Shopping blog again and find more fun fall accessories to post. I love it!!!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

It's Jewelry Again!

Finally, finally finally... If I could sit around all day designing and making jewelry, that would be better than a vacation. With thousands of dollars worth of jewelry supplies sitting in my studio, it's been so hard to concentrate on the administrative-type items that have needed my attention during this transitional period. Now I'm back to making jewelry with more ideas than I'll ever have time to prepare before Christmas.

Inspirations for jewelry designs can be so overwhelming that I find my better designs tend to come when I limit my thought process. For example, the necklace to the left above is meant to go with pretty much every standard brown outfit, and the necklace on the right is very simple to go with less than basic items. I have a tendency to design over-the-top statement jewelry if I'm not stopping to think, "What on earth would I wear this with?".  So now as I roll out my new designs, I'm going to categorize them according to what to wear them with which is exactly where I'll get my inspiration - my own closet.

My simple designs will go into a Keep It Simple (KIS) Collection. My less simple but very versatile designs that go with everything will be in my GOTO Collection (i.e. the jewelry you always go to). Then of course I can't get away without making statement jewelry, so I will also have a SHOUT Collection that has all of the unusual appeal but still has a place in one's wardrobe and not just looking cute on the jewelry holder. Ok, I'm still mulling over the names of the collections, but whatever I call them, they will be simple, go-to and statement collections.

I think I've got all of my social media activities wrapped up for the day, and with this long Labor Day weekend, I'll get to spend the rest of today and most of tomorrow making jewelry - yippee!!!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Working to Plan

Another week has flown by, and it's time to gather my thoughts again. My first instinct is to check my "To Do" list since it's easier to read that list than it is to use my memory to try and remember what all happened this week and what needs to happen next week. Maybe that means I should take a little time today for something besides work, so let's start with that plan!

I'm finally to the point in the studio where the jewelry making area can be put to use. That definitely makes getting some new jewelry designs made and posted to Novapsis a priority. With the long weekend next week, hopefully I can spend one of those days working out some designs. That's the whole key to the success of jewelry making since anyone can string some beads or make something that looks like something they saw in the store. The point is to make something that people will really wear whether it's something simple, and they like the handmade aspect, or if it's something unique that they can only get from you (and by "you" I mean me, but I talk to myself a lot).  That means it's time to get out all of those scrapbooks and electronic lists of inspirational ideas, and that's always fun.

I did also get a tip on a new ribbon resource (my very helpful sister-in-law again), and I've got some uber cool new ribbons for shoelaces that I need to get photographed and put into all three of my shoelace boutiques. That's not quite the same priority as the jewelry design, but I'll need some breaks on the jewelry design anyway. I'm just really excited about these new shoelaces since I've got nothing else quite like these in my shops right now.

After taking a peek at the "To Do" list, another good break from jewelry design will be some DIY downloads for my Printplay shop. I need to draw some templates for print/cut/assemble Christmas bows. Those don't have to be ready until probably mid-December, but it will take a little thought on design and some time to plan, and I don't want to try and cram that into a short period of time since I'll come up with some better design ideas if I give myself more time to think on it.

And as far as the weekly accomplishments go, aside from the progress in setting up the studio, I FINALLY got all of my shoelaces in Pinterest with the Rich Pin format. That means I can start building some interesting boards out there and not just boards full of shoelaces -ha!  I've got to get some shoe boards going since, let's face it, the only reason any of us get excited about shoelaces is because we get excited about shoes. I know I'll have a lot more fun on Pinterest looking for shoes to pin rather than just pinning my own shoelaces. :)

Alright, I think I'm back on track in my head, which means my next priority will be to take a bit of a break - whew!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Let The Shopping Begin!

Hurray for the holidays!  As soon as all of the stores clear out of last year's holiday inventories with their eagerly anticipated "Christmas in July" sales, it's time for everyone to ramp up for this year's festivities. For those of us who don't carry Christmas-only products like decorations/bows/wrap/etc. we can start offering good deals to those extra early holiday shoppers with our own clearance sales. This year I've consolidated all of my clearance items to my Ann Louise Studio shop on Etsy, so that's what I did with my spare time last week. ;)

Actually it's kind of fun to dig into those expired items and decide just how little you can reasonably sell them for, but the best part is snagging my favorite items for myself.  I figure if it's something I would buy on sale myself, I may as well keep it! Not that anyone would have trouble understanding that reasoning...  Granted I'm not lacking for jewelry and accessories, but if you make things you love, it's not always easy to part with them at clearance sale prices.

So now with my clearance sale rolling, I don't really expect to get many orders until mid-November anyway which gives me time to plan out some new inventory that I'll keep at my currently empty Novapsis shop.  And of course I still have plenty of work to do with Social Media (not whining, just saying!), plus I suspect when my day job wraps up on October 9th, I'll have a different perspective on where to spend my time. I hate to get ahead of myself, but I certainly can't wait until October 9th to map out my holiday business plans, so hopefully when the time comes, I'll agree with the plans I've made and can focus my new perspective on next year's plans. 

In the meantime I've got plenty of other things to worry about (not the least of which is all of the things I have to do at my day job before I leave -ha!), and time always goes faster than I expect. At this point I'd say it's time for me to do a little holiday shopping too. Ironically that's never something I enjoy, but with a few good clearance sales where I can maybe pick up a thing or two for myself along the way, I'll muddle through the holiday shopping just fine...just like everyone else.



Sunday, August 16, 2015

Back on Track

So as much as I'd like to whine about Social Media again this week, I feel like I'm getting it under control and working it into the schedule. Everything won't happen overnight, and it will never be "done", so that's as good as it gets as far as I'm concerned.

This past week has been consumed with reorganizing my enormous studio space into a personal craft area (general space where I can make a huge mess and walk away) and four separate working areas for business needs: shoelaces/hair ribbon station, jewelry-making room, crochet/yarn nook and a packing/shipping space.

Thanks to my husband's willingness to lend me his woodworking talents for custom ribbon holders, the new shoelaces/hair ribbon station has been very functional and efficient. The photo above is only about half of it, but you get the idea.  For the shipping space I literally had shipping supplies in four different places in 3 different levels of the house, so getting that all set into one 6' by 12' space is SOOO nice. The jewelry area is still in progress since it had been completely integrated with the craft area, but at least as of today the craft area is finally pulled together, and my 5' by 8' table has been cleared with only one project taking up space. I'm terrible about starting twenty projects and leaving them lying everywhere, so one project on the table is a serious accomplishment for me...and now that I think about it, I did do a quick experiment for another project this afternoon, so technically there are two projects on their now. Whatever!

And last but never least is all of the yarn. It's currently taking up the entire guest bedroom which was already doing double-duty as a sewing room, but I've got the space cleared to put it in my studio now.  I just have to carry ten storage tubs full of yarn down two flights of stairs to get that filled in, and I think that will have to wait a few days. For today I'm still good with basking in my success with getting my craft table cleaned off. It's been a good Sunday!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Still Buried in Social Media

So here I am as predicted...  It's Social Media Sunday, and I feel so buried. I can only hope I manage to get efficient at updating photos, writing articles and posting the latest news, or this will drive me crazy! It doesn't help that my Pinterest and Tumblr sites are still a WIP, so I'm still working on those pretty much daily. My sister-in-law has been extremely generous with her knowledge of social media (especially Pinterest) which has given me an even bigger action item list than I could have imagined. I knew I was underestimating the value of these mediums, and she's opened my eyes for sure.

I'm most excited that her ideas for Pinterest gave me some ideas for Tumblr that have worked out nicely, and that was where I had my biggest struggles. It's amazing how not-user-friendly some of these tools can be when you start working with them for the first time. It's as if they think I've got nothing better to do than spend the day learning how to use a new tool - not my idea of time well spent! But anyway, I am now able to add links to my stores for each photo I post in Tumblr (and while I am "able" to do that, I have some work to do to go back and make that happen on prior postings), and I can even change the font color to my accent color. I love it when I can make my own customizations just like I would for one of my independent web sites, and it's much more fun to work on something when you like the way it looks. :)

Next I am off to add photos to my "Gawking Not Shopping" blog, and then I'll be back to Pinterest and Tumblr.  I've already updated my Facebook page with the latest (and of course I had to post on my personal Facebook page too -ha!), I've added the next Shoelace Highlight to my Shoelaces Blog, and of course I've collected my thoughts now on this blog. I think I'm on track!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Everything to Facebook

I've never been excited about all of the social media opportunities and platforms from a personal perspective. This blog was my only endeavor in social media, but its purpose is functional/organizational/cathartic/etc. Things like Facebook and Pinterest seemed to be a waste of time (seriously, who has that kind of time on their hands?!?), so I completely avoided them.

Slowly but surely as I started taking steps to turn my hobbies into a business, social media became an unavoidable necessity. You will notice the recent additions at the bottom of my pages with "Favorite Sites and Blogs". Not only is it an incredible amount of work to get setup, there's a lot of maintenance that goes with them, and the constant marketing and looking for ways to bring people to those pages is mind-boggling.

I drew up a formal social media plan, and it started to look like a hopelessly tangled web. It was hurting my head and stressing me out, so I thought I'd stop and meditate on it for awhile. The hope was that a little flow meditation would allow me to more clearly see the links between all of these platforms and how best to utilize them and how best to market them. It worked!

Facebook is by far the most popular of the social media tools, so I am pointing everything to Facebook. When I have a chance to point to all of the media sites and pages, I do of course, but the bulk of my effort is focused on getting everyone looking at the Facebook page and from there the other sites will be linked, branch out, point back and point anywhere else I want them to. My stores are offering discounts if you "Like" my Facebook page, and every promotion I run will be pointing to that Facebook page.

Now for the obvious irony...  Having been so opposed to social media all of these years, I started a business Facebook page with literally no Friends or other connections of any type, and after a few days, I've ramped up to all of 5 "Likes".  Oh well, I had to start somewhere, and at least I finally did it. It's starting to look like Sundays are going to be social media days, and I'm really still in the setup phases. I just had to stop for a minute to get this in writing and get my head back into what it is I'm trying to accomplish as I'm deeply focused on the details of photo editing and all of the places I need to remember to link together. It will get there!

And good heavens after all of that, I almost forgot to mention:
Please go like "The Boutique Project" on Facebook!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

What a Year!

 Hair Ribbons, 1.5" Grosgrain Hair Ribbons (25" Long) - Colorful Hair Ribbons, Women's Hair Ribbons, Girl's Hair Ribbons, Hair Accessories
With my job situation changing over the past several months, it turned out that I needed more than a blog to keep my plans together. I needed detailed business plans and a lot of sleepless hours to make the switch from working for the corporate world to working for myself. While I've got an enormous amount of work ahead of me, I've accomplished a lot and can get back to looking at things with more of a big picture in mind.

My latest business endeavor has been a new Etsy shop for hair ribbons and accessories ( I literally put the finishing touches on it a few hours ago, and my next project will be to update my home page ( with the myriad of social media projects I've been working on the last few months.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I slid in another shoelace project during my time away (go figure -ha!). It's a new independent site at:

I'll also get this site updated with all the activities and get everything back up to speed again soon!