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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Growing Your Business Is More Than Your Sale Count

Tuesday was a weird day for me. I couldn't figure out what was wrong, I just felt....off? I feel like I have had this feeling on and off for a couple months now. But maybe that is normal. I feel like it's a common misconception that being self-employed, being your own boss, is all good, all the time. Maybe this is because, as business owners, we want to portray that.

The truth is that sometimes there are slow sale days that leaves me wondering what to do. Not that there wasn't anything for me to do, but that I didn't know what I should do.

Let me explain.

If you run a business, you know that there is always something to do. But there are a lot of things to do that don't directly bring you sales. Sometimes it's hard for me to focus on these types of things because it's hard to see the effect they have on my business. But there are really are a lot of things you can do, even though they may not immediately bring you sales, that will definitely improve your business as a whole.

Here's a few things you can do to indirectly help your business when sales are slow:

Don't watch your sale count - Perhaps the most important thing! No good can come from staring down those numbers. "Yay, sales are slow" said no one ever (Ok it's possible I have said this after Valentine's Day madness). Watching sales come in slowly will do nothing for your productivity and if you're like me, possibly stress you out a little bit. Instead of focusing on this, focus on how you can make your business better.

Read blogs - While sitting down and reading may seem like time better spent working, reading blogs is a great way to get inspired. It is especially important to seek inspiration when your shop is in the middle of downtime. Reading what other bloggers are up to can help kick you into gear and make you want to put that newfound passion into your business.

Take new product photos - I recently reshot all of my product photos. It was tedious as hell, I'm not going to lie. But my shop is better for it. And who knows, maybe my new sexy photos will catch a new eye while some one is browsing cards through Etsy's search engine.

Post on social media - Style up a nice photo of your product or your work space and share it with your followers. Even if you may not be really busy, you still want to maintain a presence on social media sites. It's kind of like a long distance friendship. You have to make sure you reach out every once in a while to make sure that relationship continues (even if you feel like you haven't heard from the other friend in weeks!).

Create an idea journal - Now is the time to dream. Dream up those ideas that are going to take your shop out of slow season. You never know what genius thought will come out of a 30 minute brainstorm session. Just start letting those creative juices flow, with no pressure on yourself, and see where it takes you.

Browse Pinterest - Yup. I am telling you to check out the time suck that is Pinterest. Pinterest is actually a valuable resource for seeing "what the people want." Watch what they are pinning, see what is trending. Also, repin! A lot of people get notifications when their pins are repinned. They may come check out your profile (and you have your products pinned right??)

Update your Etsy tags - Just the other day I was adding new cards to the shop (this one is my fav!) and I realized I had some old tags on my products. Think about the time of year it is, what holidays are coming up, what people are searching for right now (Ex: back to school, fall, teacher gifts) and tag your fitting products accordingly.

Write a blog post - Blogging is a great way to connect with others and these relationships can have a huge impact on your business. Think about all the collaborations you've seen between small business owners and bloggers. If you create a friendship with other bloggers they can (and will want to) help you promote your own business.

Being a business owner doesn't mean you have all the answers. It doesn't mean you know exactly what you're doing and you're always doing it. In fact, it brings a lot of uncertainty and self-doubt. It brings over-analyzing the tiniest, most ridiculous little details (at least I'm hoping I'm not the only one who does that). While it's easy to get caught up in things like sales count, remember there is so much more to running a business. Remember the big picture.

Do you have you tips for improving your business during slow season? I'd love to hear! xo JA

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

DIY Hummingbird Food

We added a little hummingbird feeder to our yard last year. Coming from Michigan, I rarely saw hummingbirds throughout my life. But I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of hummingbirds stopped by my feeder. I'd be working in the office and hear the "ziiippppp" of their wings just outside.

Unfortunately this summer I have been slacking on refilling the feeder since I last ran out of the food. Our feeder hung empty, lonely, the occasional bird stopping by just to quickly leave. I felt bad. I was false advertising.

Last week it hit me. Make your own food dumby. It's just sugar and water. There was no more room for excuses. I whipped up a quick batch of sugar water on the stove and put our feeder back in business.
It's extremely simple! Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Let the mixture cool before adding it to your feeder.
Of course, you also have the option to add food coloring. I have read that it is not necessary and possibly harmful to the birds so I decided to try making it without color this time. I'm hoping the birds will still be attracted to it! Have you ever used clear food? Did the hummingbirds still come? Would love to know! xo JA

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Speaking at Blogging for Makers

Well. I did it ya'll! I faced my fear of speaking in front of people and delivered my speech at Blogging for Makers this past weekend. And actually, I think it went pretty well!

A couple weeks leading up to the event I wrote my speech and started practicing. I recorded myself. I even sent a sample video to a couple friends to get their feedback. I knew that the more I practiced, the more prepared I would feel. And therefore, the less nervous I would be when the time came to get up in front of those people!

It also helped that I was part of a panel that spoke right before I was supposed to speak solo. So I was already up there, and was able to get used to multiple sets of eyes in my general direction.
The time I spent speaking is kind of a blur but I know it probably involved a lot of hand gesturing and possibly some pacing. And, yes, the occasional swearing. Like I said, I feel good about it, and I really hope that the event's attendees did too.

I think that a lot of my nerves stem from self-doubt. "People won't like what I have to say." "They won't learn anything from little old me." Taking the opportunity to do this really challenged myself to stop thinking this way. It reminded me that I should be more confident in myself and what I have to offer people. That in itself made doing it all worth it. I would totally speak at an event again (ya hear that, SNAP?) ;]

This week I have been preparing for Renegade LA! Always a great show so I'm looking forward to it. Locals, will I see you there?? Hope so! xo JA
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