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!