On my constantly on-going quest to master social media, I’ve downloaded this fun app from A Beautiful Mess. It helps makes your pictures prettier! You can also add graphics, doodles, and text. Most awesomely, it allows you to easily share your pics on Facebook, Instagram, or whatever social media tool you’d like.
I conclude by encouraging you to visit our latest series on pricing your handcrafted goodies here at Lazy Owl. Our final segment on this topic will be a reader Q&A, so I encourage you to stop by and post any questions you have about the ginormous topic of PRICING!
I picked up these chocolate bars on a whim (cannot resist anything with dark chocolate) from a local market in Houston. Three days later I went back and bought the entire stock of dark chocolate & salted brown butter pecan brittle. Absolutely to die for. I guess this isn’t a business resource, nor is it on the web (sorry non-Texas peeps)…but I still feel like it’s worth mentioning. I consider good chocolate a vital resource….for myself…
I feel like I’ve been mentioning Instagram a lot lately (follow me @lazyowlboutique!), but there’s just so much to learn and I’m having fun learning it! Here’s yet another awesome article about how to effectively use Instagram to promote your boutique biz. This post is full of great ideas and different ways to use Instagram.
Ok, so this is sort of cheating…but since I haven’t had a chance to officially announce it yet or anything, I’ve got to say that Lazy Owl’s newly released e-course & workbook about crafting a business plan for your creative business is also one of our favorite resources on the web this week! Right now we’re celebrating it’s release with a special sale price of only $10. So for the price of a couple lattes, you can download over 50 pages of goodies for your creative biz!
Here’s what I’m digging on the interwebs this week!
Seriously amazingly awesome website I just found – ifttt.com. IFTTT (I don’t even know what it stands for, but I love it) allows you to create “recipes” to automate all sorts of technological process connected to your apps, sites, and various accounts. It’s great for both business and personal use. Just a few examples – every time you list something on Etsy it can automatically post it to your Facebook business page, every time you post something on Instagram it will tweet it for you, it can text you the weather forecast every morning when you wake up, it can automatically back up certain emails…the possibilities are endless and amazing. This site is a MUST for using your internet time more effectively!
I’ve been loving the essential oils kit I bought from fellow Texan and Etsy seller Cassia Aromatics. The dream state blend has been helping me get to sleep easier, and I love diffusing the oils in my new cute little diffuser for a quick pick-me-up throughout the day. I also picked up The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy to get more ideas and recipes for using my new oils (if you use essential oils I’d love to hear any tips or tricks you might have for a newbie!).
I love Tara Gentile’s post about five ways to generate revenue now. Her ideas are always outside the box and get you pumped up about your business. Reading this post this week has gotten my business wheels turning, so you can expect some announcements and new things coming from Lazy Owl soon!
Here’s what I’m digging on the interwebs this week!
I’m loving all the pretty things over at I Heart My Dream Job. This new site by Andi from madebyandi.com is all about inspiring you to go “off road” and attain the life you dream about. Right now, she’s offering some great free resources via video and a fun inspirational printable to frame in your office. Can’t wait to hang mine!
I just enrolled for another free artistic business webinar starting on March 30 over at Create Make Money Be Happy. The site promises a lot of goodness will come out of attending this free telesummit, so it’s worth checking out!
This recommendation is not so much business-related as just good living-related! I’m currently reading The Power of Now and really enjoying it. It almost feels a bit like meditating as I read it. This book is all about how your mind and constant over-thinking can be your enemy, how to control negative thoughts, and how to really embrace living daily in the “now”.
This week I listened to this free recording from Launch Grow Joy all about Instagram and how to use it to build your business. Learning more about how to use and effectively utilize Instagram is something I’m struggling with right now, and it really helped to hear the basics of how to use the app and tons of tips on how to leverage it for business purposes.
Last time we discussed what we’ve accomplished in 2013. Maybe you even took the time to print out the free printable to note down all the great things you’ve done last year. If not, think about it! Before moving forward, it’s important to reflect on what your goals were in the past, what you checked off the list, and where you fell short. At least for me, it gives me a much needed kick in the pants to jump start my goal planning for the next year.
Thus, it’s time to think about 2014 (yes, I know 2014 started like…a month ago…I guess my kick in the pants wasn’t quite hard enough!). Putting your goals for the year in writing holds you accountable. It’s hard for me to remember whether I successfully met my goals if I can’t even remember them in a few months!
To get the juices flowing, here are some pointers to think about regarding your creative business’ goals:
Start with your business’ finances – When we think about business goals, the first thing most of our minds go to is probably the dollar signs. It’s easiest to start b examining the dollar signs from last year and making goals related to your business’ finances, and most likely and specifically, your sales. Think about how much money you’d like to make with your small business in 2014 and go from there (but make it realistic yall!). That being said, don’t forget your expenses. The sales side is important, but if you spend a boatload on supplies, shipping stuff, or advertising, then all that cash outflow is going to negate your cash inflow. Think about how you will control expenses this year, and plan accordingly. Think you can reduce shipping expenses by buying mailers in bulk twice a year instead of running to the post office every week?
Next, look at your non-financial numbers – Facebook fans, repeat customers, Instagram followers, Etsy shop stats, whatever applies to you. How can you boost these numbers?
Come up with action items for all these numeric goals. If your plan is to increase revenue, what will you do to increase those sales dollars? Will you advertise in a new venue? Will you offer a new line of products? Create gift sets at a higher price point? If your goal is to encourage repeat customers, how will you entice them? Offer coupon codes with a purchase? Send a personalized note or free gift? Explore all your options. The more doable actionable items you can think of for each goal, the higher your chance of accomplishing it. As I said last year, don’t set yourself up for failure. Examine what you achieved in 2013 and be realistic about 2014. What were your sales, expenses, and profit like last year? If you plan on tripling revenue this year, you best have a plan to get there! You can’t just make it a goal to triple your sales, your revenue, or your facebook fans (that’s called wishing, not planning) without thinking about how. If those are your goals, come up with some concrete, doable action items that will help you get there.
Again, your goals should be specific and measurable. Don’t just say “I want to increase sales”. Come up with an actual benchmark dollar amount (like “I want to make $5000 in sales.” or “I want to average $2000 in sales per month.”). Giving yourself specific benchmarks will increase your motivation to reach them. Plus, they make it easier to measure whether or not you were successful.
Don’t forget about business-related goals that might not be apparent right away just because they aren’t related to sales or numbers. Do you need to simplify or get organized? Keep better records? Do you want to acquire a new skill, like take better product photos, learn Photoshop, or write blog articles? For example, my business goals will include sorting through and re-organizing all my jewelry-making supplies and cleaning up my inventory tracking spreadsheets. I also want to get better at continuously and consistently listing new items in my Etsy shop. Meeting these goals will make my life easier and my business more organized, and thus will indirectly improve my sales and boost my business!
Here’s a basic four-page worksheet to record your 2014 goals. Feel free to print and include in your creative business binder. There’s a space at the top to include your business name. I split the worksheet into four categories of business goals, and each table has space for you to write your specific goal, how you will measure your success, the goal’s deadline, and any action items you can do to achieve it. Click here- 2014 Goals Worksheet – My Creative Business or on the pictures to download the free 4-page printable.
Your goals should be very specific to your business needs, but to get the wheels turning, here are some examples of goals (repasting from last year):
Increase sales revenue
Increase number of sales
Increase sales on particular venues (Etsy, shopify, own website, offline, craft show, local, etc.)
Increase average revenue per order
Increase orders of multiple items
Begin selling in X amount of boutiques or shops
Participate in X number of craft shows
Increase profit (net income = sales revenue less expenses)
Keep better inventory records
Consistently track expenses, sales, inventory, supplies, etc.
Improve records for tax purposes
Improve pricing formula
Boost profit margin
Increase facebook fans or twitter followers
Increase Etsy views, hearts, etc.
Increase blog/website/e-newsletter subscribers or views
Increase number of blog posts/facebook posts/tweets each week or month
Develop your own website/blog/e-newsletter/direct mailing list
Make the frontpage of Etsy X times
Get published in a print or e-magainze
Guest post on other blogs
Participate more in Etsy teams or other forums
Make X amount of Etsy treasuries
Get featured on a specific relevant website
Leave business materials in X amount of local businesses
Other Business Goals:
List X amount of new items on Etsy each week/month
Develop X amount of new product lines this year
Revamp your logo, brand, website, shop, etc.
Redesign or develop your business cards, custom catalog, etc.
Learn more about specific business topics, like SEO, HTML, product photography, bookkeeping, etc.
Write your goals down and keep them in a visible place. Throughout the year, you should take time once a month or once a quarter to review your goals, determine your progress, and adjust as needed. Seeing your goals will give you the kick in the pants you might need every now and then to get back on track.
What are some of your goals for your creative business in 2014?
Happy Holidays! Whew! I apologize for my radio silence for the majority of this year. I promise 2014 will be back on track around here!
I think I had a pretty good excuse for my distraction. You see, in 2013, we had a little baby owlette! Being pregnant and having a newborn kept me pretty busy!
baby girl hazel
Now, I know this isn’t meant to be a lifestyle blog, so I will keep my gripes about being preggo and gushing about our new little hazelnut to a minimum. I’m now running Lazy Owl Boutique (the business and the blog) as a full-time stay-at-home-mom of a 3-month old (that was a lot of hyphens).
Business aside, 2013 was a great year for Lazy Owl, and I hope it was a record year for your creative business as well. I’ve revisited my blog posts from the end of last year, Planning for Positivity and a Year in Reflection. The lessons from these articles can easily be re-applied to this year. First, let’s review what we’ve accomplished in 2013!
Positive notes for me and my creative venture in 2013:
Continued to generate new content for this blog over the first quarter of the year, gaining new followers and ever-increasing stats (even without updates, the hits keep coming! make a website yall!)
Maintained steady sales orders and revenue over on Etsy
Became a vendor at a new local shop in Houston for handcrafted goods, The Tinderbox
Sold for the first time at Pop Shop Houston, a handmade holiday market, and it was AMAZING!
Got a new camera, learned to (sort of) use it, and upped my listing photography skills
Continued to re-do my branding and imagery (I updated my banner, Facebook look, and business cards so far), and learned how to use Photoshop to do so on my own
Experimented with some new product line ideas, and figured out what did and did not work (like I am never going to be good at calligraphy haha)
That was the good stuff. Considering all that happened for me personally in 2013 (mostly baby stuff), I’m glad I was able to accomplish anything business-wise. I will admit that my sales did not increase nearly as much as I had hoped for this year, but the limiting factor in that equation was myself. I just did not have the time or energy to put as much effort into Lazy Owl as I had planned, and without constant effort, you’re not going to get the bigger payoff. However, I think that’s what’s so great about being a creative entrepreneur…you’re in charge of your destiny. The business is here when you need it, and if you need to step back for a while to focus on other things, you have the flexibility to do so.
I’m re-posting the same free printable I posted last year, but with a few new tweaks to really get you thinking about what you accomplished this year and ramp up your planning for the next. I added the “Personal” section, along with a capstone question – What did you learn this year about your business and yourself as an entrepreneur? If you had to sum up 2013 as one big lesson to lend toward your success next year, what would you say? For me, I’d say that in 2013 I learned that Lazy Owl can only be as successful as I’m willing to make it. I can only make so much money and generate a certain level of success by letting it (and myself) coast along. It really is important for me to do a little something to benefit my business everyday if I truly want to reach the goals I have in the near future.
Here’s the downloadable printable in all its glory. Click to download and dig deep into what you’ve accomplished this year. Even if you’re just starting out, it’s important to give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve gotten done thus far!
SIDE NOTE! I just have to use this venue as my free plug for shopping Lazy Owl for the holidays. There’s still a few days left to order some fun handcrafted jewelry in time for Christmas! If you use code OWLBLOG you can get $5 off any order $15 or more!
I was inspired by this post to reflect on the year 2012 and what I’ve accomplished. I agree that it’s all too easy to think back on the year and focus on all the things left undone, all those goals I didn’t reach or things I didn’t achieve. Sure, we can always do better, but that’s what planning for 2013 is for right? Let’s take some time to focus on all the things we did achieve this year.
Quit my day job and switched to a new part-time teaching job to have more time to spend on my own business!
It’s important to boost yourself up with positive thinking every now and then (or all the time really, haha). Take some time to reflect on the year and all the great things you accomplished. Feel free to use the printable worksheet below.
Everybody in the blogosphere lately has been talking about prepping your business for 2013, listing goals, making plans, filling out timelines, etc… It’s hard for me to think about beginning a new year with my Christmas goggles on, but there’s no use denying the inevitable (unless of course, the Mayans were right, then I’ve got nothing to worry about).
So, I agree. In the next couple weeks, I’ll be sitting down with pen in hand to think about my plans for next year, and more importantly, specific, attainable, and measurable goals for Lazy Owl. For me, 2011 was all about just starting. 2012 was about figuring things out, what worked and what didn’t work. My overall theme for 2013 will be to grow.
Are you ready for your creative venture to grow? Then come join me! Via our Crafting a Business series, we’ll explore both meaty detailed business concepts and motivational thoughts, giving you the research, tools, and inspiration you need to grow your business in 2013.
My goal is to grow Lazy Owl a little bit every month, every week, even every day. You can do it too with your Etsy shop or whatever your creative business may be. Small steps leading to big changes. Let’s talk about pricing methods, let’s really research SEO and tagging, let’s improve our photography skills and our customer service offerings, let’s explore our target market, let’s have more fun! You’ve already taken the plunge to going into business for yourself…now let’s really make it work! A creative entrepreneur should be willing to be constantly growing, learning, and improving.
I made myself the above print to hang in my crafting studio to remind me to do just a little something to help my business (and myself) grow a little bit each and every day! It’s a marathon, not a sprint, right?
Stay tuned for more articles, tidbits, worksheets, and printables for the rest of this year and throughout 2013. I welcome you to join us by subscribing to the Lazy Owl newsletter to get updates directly to your inbox! Just enter your email address in the little box to the right.
Oh happy day! At the end of this month we will be celebrating Lazy Owl Boutique’s one year Etsyversary (that’s our Etsy anniversary, just in case you couldn’t figure that out)!
One year ago this month I was going through a lot of changes. I was just beginning a well-deserved vacation at the beach away from my hell job when I got a wonderful offer for a new job. I debated for a few days, scared out of my mind. I had never actually quit a job before. I always just had to leave because I was graduating, leaving to study abroad, etc. I returned from the beach well-rested and at peace with my decision and put in my two week’s notice that Monday morning.
Over the next few weeks I created, created, and created on overdrive, along with taking lots of photos and figuring out how the heck to get started on Etsy. By the end of May, Lazy Owl Boutique officially opened for business! It was definitely slow going at first, but it has been a very rewarding experience and I’m delighted to say that in less than a year we have reached over 100 sales!
We’ve made some mistakes but learned a lot along the way in just one year. Check out this awful product photography for example:
Ay yi yi! Talk about gloomy.
We’ve fine-tuned the creating/photographing/listing process and even begun to sell in person at craft shows! We are even in the process of joining with a handful of other local handmade artisans to open a unique handmade boutique in Houston (stay tuned)!
One year ago I would’ve never thought I’d be capable of doing all that I am now. And I have all of you to thank! So thanks to all my family, friends, fellow artists, and customers who have supported Lazy Owl on this journey.
To celebrate our one year Etsyversary, we are giving away hairpin freebies! Get one freebie hairpin with a purchase of $10 or more, and two hairpins with a purchase of $30 or more! Check out Lazy Owl’s facebook page to pick out your favorite hairpin(s) and include your top four preferences in the note to seller during checkout!