Friday, April 30, 2010

EtsyRAIN Craft Show May 8th

Hey everyone!

I'm Devon from OnceUponAPedestal.etsy.com. I wanted to share this information for the upcoming Etsy Show at the Seattle Center (also posted on the PSET facebook page). I'll have a booth there selling my pedestals. Should be some great art!

Date:
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Time:
11:00am - 5:00pm
Location:
Intiman Theater (Seattle Center)
Street:
201 Mercer Street
City:
Seattle, WA

http://www.etsyrain.com/shows/2010-spring-show

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More Craft Fair Info

Hey everyone!

One of my hopes for this spot is to use it to advertise local craft shows. I got an email today from someone who wanted me to promote the craft show out on fox island. 

FICRA Fox Island Fair
Saturday, August 14, 2010
11am to 4pm
Nichols Community Center, 690 9th Ave., Fox Island
Vendor Application can be found here:http://www.foxisland.net/ficra_fair_vendor_reg.htm

Lise' Ohlson
Rental Coordinator
Fox Island Community & Recreation Association
http://www.foxisland.net/ncc.htm
253-549-2701 (home)
253-381-3311 (cell)
253-549-7701 (FAX)


While I won't be able to do this fair because of work and school, please let me know if any of you decide to because I'd love to come out and show some support.

Happy Sales!
Whitney

Friday, April 16, 2010

Beating the Etsy Slump


One of the things I have noticed when people email me to join the team is that they are looking for hints on how to beat the etsy slump.

Well, if I had the hot tip on how to do it, I would definitely be one of those lucky ducks that are featured on the "Quit your day job" section.

What I can do though, is sure the tips for what works for me when I go days and sometimes even weeks without a single etsy sale.

1. Post/renew/relist. It might just be me, but I really believe that the more I list or renew, the more traffic I get. The reason for this is that the more items you have, the higher chance you will be stumbled upon through etsy search. Also, you have a chance of being on the "recently listed" section at the bottom of the front page. 

2. Use twitter. I really really dislike twitter. I kind of, just don't get it. But I do schedule time at least once a week to just sign on to twitter real quick and post the link to an item or advertise when I'm offering free shipping or a special sale. Twitter is a great way to get the word out (even if you don't quite get it..).

3. Add tags! The more tags the better. If you feel like this is something you aren't good at, please feel free to ask for help. I love labeling things! The more tags you have, the higher the chances that the item will pull up during a search.

4. Take time to take good pictures. The better an item is displayed, the better the chances that someone will fall in love with that item.

That's all folks. Have a great weekend and happy sales!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tax Prep for the Lazy Person - do's and don'ts

Also titled: Lessons from April 2010

I've always been a DIY kind of gal. I'll paint the house, climb under my Jeep to change the oil, and figure out why the washer is making that funny noise. Taxes? Yeah, been doing them myself since I started. However, I've always filed a 1040EZ or 1040A and taken the standard deduction; 2009 is the first year I itemized.

The decision seemed to make sense: I started a business, I gave a whole lot of $$ to medical professionals for various reasons, and frankly I didn't make much to begin with. So I should do pretty well, right? Unfortunately, I caused myself two days of havoc and headache when I bit the bullet Monday and got down to the nitty-gritty.

Here are a few things I learned from doing my taxes this year. Some of them I didn't realize. Some of them knew but didn't apply. Others I could have figured out, if only I'd taken a few minutes to look or got some help. ("Oh, damn my eyes!" she says as she swoons...)

Hopefully if I send this out into the blogosphere, somebody else will read it and learn from my mistakes, rather than make their own!

Don't: collect everything in one big pile
Do: organize and maintain your records all year long
How many times have we heard and read how important it is to keep records? Well you should probably be doing that. And by probably I mean for sure. And I don't mean "Keep everything you'll possibly need sitting next to your computer so you can go through it at some undefined later time." Repeat after me: YOU WILL NEVER TAKE THE TIME. Well, at least not till tax time next year, which as we are exploring here is the wrong time to go through piles of paperwork!

Set aside a firm thirty minutes each and every month to input this data into your chosen electronic storage medium. Outright, Quickbooks, even a spreadsheet you make up yourself will do. And however much you can automate, do that too! It's so much easier to click "Import from PayPal" than it is to put it all in yourself, item by line item. Remember, the easier you make it for yourself, the more time you can spend creating!

Don't: leave things a mess in the name of speed
Do: set up a simple system
Imagine for a moment that it's time to pay your bills for the month. If you're like me, you take all your bills (power, water, cable, cell phone, student loans), to your computer, log in to your financial institution, and send them all checks through the magic we know as Online Bill Pay. You carefully note on the bill how much you paid, from what account, and when, and you throw it on top of an ever-growing pile on your left. What? How much harder is it really to turn instead to your right and file the same piece of paper in your filing cabinet under "Utilities?" Oh, you say your filing cabinet isn't next to your desk? Well perhaps you should move it.

Ergonomics is a two-dollar (and increasingly familiar) word that basically means organizing a work area in ways that make tasks easier and more efficient for the body to accomplish. Consultants get paid huge sums of money to tell companies both large and small, "Hey, if one task requires the use of two objects at the same time, maybe you should put those two objects next to each other." So think about the work you need to do and plan (or reorganize) your home office or your recordkeeping area to be more efficient. Then add Efficiency Expert to the ever-growing list of titles you're accumulating as a small business owner. And if you're paying yourself a wage by now, consider adding a bonus for implementing such a good idea. Hey, you're a reasonable person, you can recognize when you're adding value to the company! Sit down with yourself and have a good talk. I'm sure you'll be fair to you.

Don't: work too hard on the wrong things
Do: keep the right information
I spent a good five or six hours building spreadsheets of last year's handwritten income and expense reports - complete with sales tax collected, mileage driven, and qualifying utilities - only to find out I'd used the wrong information. See, when I built the spreadsheets, I wanted to know what my costs were, so I included all appropriate calculations. For example, I didn't list my rent for July, I listed the percentage of my rent that I got to write off in proportion to the size of my apartment and the size of my office. I didn't add up the number of miles I drove in August, I figured the dollar amount for each trip I took in August and added those amounts, along with toll fees, for each month.

So after several hours of diligent recording and figuring (and deciphering, and fighting Excel to make it do what I wanted), I opened Turbo Tax, secure in the knowledge that I was done with the hard part. Then I promptly had to go back and refigure everything, because TT is designed for people who don't want to do the math themselves.

My advice? Figure out what format your records need to be in before you spend all that time giving yourself carpal tunnel for no reason.

Don't: assume you'll get to it later
Do: build the time into your schedule
This is related to my first point about keeping good records in the first place. We've all heard it before, so here I go repeating it once again: Schedule time throughout the year to get this stuff done! Form healthy habits so that you don't leave yourself in the lurch whe you get busy. Once a month I pay my Etsy bill, and at the same time I enter all my reciepts for supplies, etc. At busier times of the year maybe I have to do reciepts more often so I don't get bogged down by it. But like anything else I know I have to do, it's on the schedule. Hell, at this point I have to put meals on my schedule too or I don't get around to them!

Point is, if it's important, you make time for it. And record keeping is definitely important!

Don't: assume the IRS thinks like you do
Do: organize your records based on the end need
How do you categorize your business expenses? I knew that business cards aren't in the same class of expense as beads or booth fees, but I didn't realize until yesterday that while beads and string fall under "Cost of Goods Sold," so do wrapping supplies. So all year I coded wrapping supplies and table drop cloths under "Point of Purchase" along with hang tags and signs, which actually qualify as Advertising expenses. Hence another reason I had to re-do my reports!

This is a very simple error to avoid. One easy way to get around it is to go to www.irs.gov and download the form used to report all business expenses. You don't have to use it, or even save it, but take you a look-see at what categories they use, and apply those to your own records.

If you specifically want to organize your expenses so that wrapping supplies are separate from beads but together with signs because it really does make way more sense, there are two ways you can approach that. The smart way is to sub-categorize signs, wrapping supplies, and beads so that you can add the sub-categories together as needed for different purposes, without redoing the work over and over again and making yourself go mad in white linen, as they say. The other way isn't so smart... (In my mind I can hear Eric Cartman, "I do what I want!")

Don't: think you know better
Do: listen to your inner promptings
The moral of the story is, when your little inner voice tells you in early 2009, "Gee whiz, I've never done this before. Maybe I should go talk to the SBA and see if I'm keeping the right kind of records," you oughta listen to yourself and go talk to the damned SBA in early 2009. Before your stubborn DIY tendencies run rampant and cause you two days of headache in April of 2011.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How to succeed at three full-time jobs

In this recession world of cutbacks, RIFs, and layoffs, it seems everyone and their cousin is out of work. Being in corporate retail management, I didn't think I would face that problem, but three months ago my company announced they would be closing my store. So I considered my alternatives and made a plan that (I hope) will keep me in beans and rice at the very least.

The long run is that I will be singing for my supper as part of a local rock/country duo, and supplementing my income with my jewelry sales. The problem is that in the meantime I still have my 50+ hours per week corporate gig which (for the sake of my severance pay) I can't leave quite yet. So I've embarked on a quest to figure out how to do three full-time jobs at the same time... Without losing my sanity or having family and friends forget who I am.

First of all I have found that prioritizing my time is no longer an option. When every hour has literally ten useful applications (not counting time wasters like reading the comics or watching TV) it really brings home the need for doing the most important things first.

I recently read a story (on an Etsy page no less) about a professor who illustrated the importance of prioritizing. He filled a glass jar with rocks and asked his class if it was full. Then he poured pebbles in around the rocks and asked again if it was full. Next he poured in sand, and finally water, at which point the jar truly was full. The moral of the story was that if he'd put the sand and the water in first, the rocks would never have fit.

Taking that to heart, I now prioritize by that scale. Yesterday I bought some new sterling silver clasps; is creating a rock task today or a sand task? I heard a great new song that I'd like to add to the playlist; does it qualify as a pebble or a rock? This is not a new idea, but it's a new way for me to illustrate the truth for myself, and I'm finding it very helpful to rate each activity. I've found that the same task can be water one day and a rock three days later if I don't get around to it; other tasks are always pebbles but have to be done every day.

I find every minute in the day that I can make useful. If I get up early and have an extra ten minutes before I go to work, I'll pop into the studio and play with a necklace I'm restringing. If my man isn't ready for bed yet I'll pull out the guitar and my country songbook and see what I can pick out. If I have a slow afternoon at the "day job" I may take a break to write out an artist bio for a particular website, or sketch out an idea for my booth setup.

Second, I am planning more. I have a calendar on the fridge for the week. I post my "wage slavery" as I so politely call it, all my gigs and shows, and any planned activities like yoga dates with my HSO (highly significant other) or dinner with the fam. (This also helps when I forget to tell Bill about plans, or when he forgets what I have told him!)

One of the first things I did this year was write out a list of craft shows I wanted to get into and when I have to have get application in. This has also been very helpful with budgeting booth fees. One of my former managers used to say, "Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance." I've never been good at applying that, but now that I'm responsible for my own success I'm getting better!

Third, I am relying on others. Nobody is a truly self-made man or woman, but some of us seem to require more help than others. And that's okay! My HSO works from home, and I am accepting the idea that it's okay to let him do the dishes every day. I don't feel as guilty that I haven't done the laundry in a month, since he's willing to grab the contents of one hamper and throw it in the wash with soap. (He does take time to separate and fold everything too... What a sweetheart!) Also, when my band is booked on a Thursday evening and I am supposed to be setting up before my weekly Farmer's Market is over, I have family members and a good friend who have volunteered to booth for me and pack everything up so I can retrieve it later.

My musical partner is still doing a lot of the management tasks associated with running a band; he finds us gigs and makes the schedule. Fortunately,he's better suited to it anyways, since he knows everyone in the area and they know he's earned the glowing reputation he has.

Just make sure that the help you're getting is reasonable; for example, you don't want to have your partner take on all the child-raising duties and get burned out after three months. Take an evening to yourself and send him/her off with friends, to the mall, to the bar, wherever. Even running errands alone can be a break! Be fair, be aware, and be appreciative.

But there's still some things that nobody can do for me and which still fall through the cracks. So my last method of dealing with all of it is to relax more. Not spend more time relaxing, but be more aware that I am relaxing. Since I have so little time free, I enjoy my free time to the fullest. I think how lucky I am to be eating a delicious dinner made by my sister or my mom, I contemplate how nice it is to be lying in bed watching a movie with my man, I revel in the joy of a late morning lie-in. It's kind of Zen I know, and very self-reflective.

Also, if I don't get through the entire priority list for my day, I don't sweat it. Rarely do I find that I miss the rocks, and even most pebbles can safely be put off till tomorrow. On occasion I'll burn the midnight oil to get a project done, but with good planning I usually avoid those anyays.

Right now I feel like I'm being put through a ringer. I have a list of tasks that only I can do, and that are very important to build my business: set up my website, blog regularly, devise some giveaways, come up with ideas for the rebranding this fall, do my taxes (like, NOW), maybe create some more jewelry for heaven's sake?!? I don't know how many I will be able to get done while I'm still working full-time, so (for example) I won't open a Twitter account until I know I can be more active. But I'm making a list... And once I've joined the ranks of the so-called "unemployed" I'll start knocking them off.

In the mean time my top priorities are 1. regularly uploading items to Etsy - with exceptional photos - 2. getting my name out locally and 3. studying what other sellers are doing so I don't make as many rookie mistakes. Oh yeah, and creating more jewelry!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Welcome and Upcoming Events

I finalllllly got around to making a blog for our team! If you are interested in becoming an admin and would like to post info or promote your items here, please contact me and I'll be sure to add you to the list.

I also wanted to promote our etsy fan page. You can find it here. Feel free to invite your friends to become a fan.

Lastly, I was contacted about a craft show that we are invited to participate in. They are both a few hours away from us but I'll post the information just in case someone is interested.

Hello!

I am the Organizer of an Indie Arts & Crafts Show named Craft-In Arts & Crafts Show @ the Historic 99w Drive-In Theatre in Newberg, Oregon (we are Southwest of Portland). I would like to invite your Etsy Street Team Members to join us! I know you are several hours away but we would love to have Crafters from all around the Pacific Northwest. It is also really important for us to have Etsy well represented at this handmade show. Is there anyway I can promote this show with your group?

Here are some details and website that have tons of information on being a vendor:

Event Name: Craft-In Arts & Crafts Show
Place: Newberg's Historic 99w Drive-In Theater
Date: Saturday, July 17, 2010
Time: 10am -4:30pm

Website: http://craftinshow.blogspot.com

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Thank you,

Wendy Doerr, Organizer
Craft-In Arts & Crafts Show @ the Historic 99w Drive-In Theatre

That's all for now! Have a wonderful week :)

Whitney
onbeyondzebra.etsy.com