Time for a shop update!


I know alot of you out there are following along my “growing my handmade biz” journey.
Watching and wondering “did that work?”.
Working from home and growing a craft biz is hard…don’t let anyone tell you that working for yourself is some easy peezy adventure.
All those lovely little images over on Pinterest with quotes like  “Follow your bliss“…”Do what you love and you never work a day” …come on guys you know those quotes are all crap.
Right?
I mean really…they are selling you a life of living on the other side of some fence looking over into someone else’s yard.  Convincing you that someone else is living some magical dream because they are doing something they love while you trudge off to a 9 to 5 doing something not fun…instead of screen printing little boy tee shirts all day.

I have known that tidbit for years thankfully.
Having run the photography studio for all these years I know that even if you choose to do something I love every single day of my life it STILL becomes a J.O.B. 
Actually the only difference between leaving your home to go to a job doing something you don’t love doing every day is that when you take your hobby and turn it into a job you lose your hobby.
I tell you all this not to scare you off from starting your dream biz but because I know that when you guys see me posting all the fun crafts and things I am making or a photography assignment I am loving that it looks like it is all fun and exciting…I so get that!
Those are the days I love my job too!
Who wouldn’t want to make pretty things all day and get paid? Duh!

Truth though…there is a TON of work on the back end.
You have to figure out not only what you are going to sell but where to sell it?
Craft fairs, online, Etsy, Amazon etc…
I have been trying out Shopfiy, Etsy and Amazon this last month.  I have literally watched 1 million YouTube videos on how to build your online craft biz over the last year.
I am probably not supposed to admit that but I really hate the idea of leading someone down the rosey path of “starting a craft biz is soooo easy!“.
Let me save you sometime…shall I?
Let me do a fast review of my experiences:

Favorite Crafty Biz YouTube watches and iTunes podcasters…let me put a disclaimer in here that there needs to be MORE woman doing business channels.  Feels like there are a million (often kindof shady) men doing these channels for running businesses and you just know their only business is teaching folks how to start a business.  That’s their only biz.
Cherry pick the info those folks give…they aren’t running a craft business which is a very different thing most days.
Granted none of these folks will fit your own biz perfectly but they all have bits and pieces of useful information you maybe able to put to good use in your business.

A few of my faves:

Renae Christine (she is fun to watch…overs some great advice)
Stanford School Of Business (Not craft based but lots of useful info)
Holly Casto (She does a little bit of everything)

Podcasts:
TGIM (best podcast out there but sadly they haven’t made a new one since August…boo)
Shopify Masters (Granted I am about to tell ya Shopify really isn’t working for me much…the podcasts are good)
The Side Hustle Show (A bit “man heavy“…typically has a feel of an old boys club BUT that doesn’t mean they don’t have bits and pieces of useful info that woman can use too.)
Girlboss Radio  (Yeah finally some girl power…but they haven’t been updating much lately)

Shall I go a bit more into men and Youtube/podcast channels and business teaching?
It does get frustrating when you are searching out knowledge if you are a woman.
Women have a totally different set of needs.  We have to juggle a home, kids, laundry, dinner and working as a minority (Sorry folks this really does play into being a small biz owner when you are a woman…any gal who hasn’t ran into not being taken seriously because they are a woman is just plain lucky.  The struggle is real.)

While men deal with many of issues that are unique to man world….women have a higher level of expectations placed upon them outside of work that they have to maintain on a daily.
Just the reality of it for most of us.  Not complaining…just being real.  It is what it is.

That being said…good Lord I would love for more business woman to start podcasts and YouTube videos and share some knowledge.  Part of me wonders if the lack of woman in the business education market is more from women being afraid to share their knowledge with other women OR if there really just aren’t as many women willing to take the risk of starting their own business? Hmmmm

I really don’t know the answer….just one of those questions I ponder from time to time after listening to the millionth podcast with business men bantering and dreaming of a world where woman have equal numbers  of  “sharers” and can banter along with the men on business podcasts and videos.
Probably why I share my experiences so openly…because we gals need to be more open with cheering each other on and lifting each other up.
No really.  We do.

Moving on…

SHOPIFY
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*First note…I will be closing my Shopify apparel shop this week and merging the tees over to Etsy 😉

Pros:

First let me say…I love the platform.  I do.
Super easy.  You can have a quality website up in like 5 seconds.
I love the whole concept of plugins to add to your shop.
I love the e-mail list integration!  Super easy.
I like being able to sync it with my Amazon sellers account but it can be super confusing for sure.

Cons:
If you want to be successful on the platform you need to spend money.   Lots of money.
Let me lay it out so you can see all the costs:

Standard Site   $29 (a month)
Weighted shipping   $20 (a month) basically if you want your clients to not pay an arm and a leg in shipping from your print shop.
Kit App $10-$25 (a month…PLUS the advertisement fees for FB/Instagram etc. This adds up FAST but was really awesome.  But the cost is a huge hurdle.)
Plug in SEO  $0-$25 (the zero account doesn’t really do much)

The one week that was successful with high traffic I used Kit BUT it cost like $40 bucks between advertising and the Kit fees.  I can’t imagine spending that much every week as a small craft business owner on a single app.
Especially when I am still paying Etsy and Amazon fees as well.

I wish it integrated with Etsy.  That would be a dream.
I wish that they offered more FREE apps to help grow my biz.
I wish that I had a gazillion dollars to keep my Shopify shop.

But alas…Shopify is great for business owners who have the capital and revenue to pay for the extras needed to grow your shop.
I am not there…yet.  Oh I will be one day (fingers crossed) and when I am I will gladly go right back to shopify.  It really is a great platform.
Financially though I make most of my sales from Etsy.
So moving onto Etsy…

Etsy
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Pros:
Simplicity.
Oh how easy it is to just make something and post it up there…but time.  You WILL need the time to do so.  I spend many a late night adding lovelies.

I have had the best luck over there.
Even if I don’t actually make the sale from the actual platform my local folks contact me often to purchase items or custom items they have watched on my Etsy shop.
Traffic.  No matter where I attempt selling items I always get the most traffic to my lovelies on Etsy.
My skill with a camera plays in nicely to getting my items pinned often and recirculated which does end in sales and convo’s often.  I love that!
I love the community.  There is something lovely with connecting with other folks.

Cons:

When you send your customers to your Etsy shop you are also running the risk that they will venture down the rabbit hole and end up purchasing another sellers item that they liked better.

My biggest concern with both Etsy and Amazon is I feel like I am “putting all my eggs in one basket” with companies that can decide at anytime to pull my store down.  Literally these big companies could decide at anytime for any reason to take my little lively hood away.
Hence why I will probably always be striving for my own shop on my website…probably trying Woocommerce next. (free)
But I will always keep an Etsy as long as they will have me…because it really is my biggest traffic source.

Others ripping off your ideas…ok this is NOTHING new to me.  I have been a photographer for 15 years.  I can’t even count how many times my work, locations, website etc… have been ripped off over the years.  How many friends, clients etc… have decided “Oh I love what she does I want to do that too!”

When it comes to what you sell though the product itself is what matters…just know that there will always be a million other photographers, jewelry makers, sticker makers, tee shirt makers…my goal is always to attempt to do my own thing.
I don’t mind that there are 8 million sticker makers…60 million photographers and 200 million jewelry makers etc….
I try to attempt to brand myself differently than others doing the same….
I have always done that with every art form/job I take on.  Trying to do your own thing within any given medium can be a full time job but it can be done!
If you find you are taking on someone else’s style and just copying exactly what they do you are NOT an artist…you are a copycat.
Will copycats make money?
Not gonna lie.
Yes.  Especially if they have more money for advertising…lol.
BUT that is where truly sharing your story and who you are for realz comes into play in your marketing and social media.
You do you…Attempt to not worry about the others.
There is enough market share in most cases for those who truly put the effort in.

Costs.  Yes even with Etsy the costs can add up fast.  My bill was $35 last month BUT the difference between this and Shopify was that I made more than enough to make that cost worth it.  That $35 included shipping fees and advertising.  Actually just had my phone chime again with another new sale…it’s worth it to me.

Shipping fees via Etsy….well they aren’t exactly right (If I use their shipping platform I tend to over pay) BUT I think this is a problem on my end not theirs.  I may add in Shipstation but that would be an extra $25 a month and I am not there yet.

AMAZON
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Pros:
Disclaimer…I am super new to selling over there.  Not even close to an expert.
Huge audience…YUUUUGGGGGEEE
Decent traffic

Cons:
Cost…again.  $39 a month…plus advertising.  It can add up.
When you first start selling you have to “earn” your buy button.
Uhmmm WTH?  I just paid you $39 bucks and I don’t even get a “buy button”….lol!  Seems a bit odd.
It is SUPER complicated to learn…like CRAZY ridiculous over the top complicated.  Like I felt like I needed a college degree complicated.  BUT in full disclosure I do very little half way.
I want to do things “right” from the beginning.  At least I try too.

Again they can decide at anytime to just take down your livelyhood.  They are a buyers bestie not a sellers bestie.  I get it.  I am at peace with that.  I am on their playground.

I will probably be just taking my account down a selling level to a regular sellers account though later this month and not the $39 version because I just don’t see that I am getting my money’s worth just yet. I think where I am at in my business right now…I just need the free account.
I have made a few sales on there but I find that customers don’t respond to e-mails or correspondence and I am a custom creation kindof gal.  I like giving my customers that extra bit of love.
Think “boutique” shopping.
Did I mention you aren’t allowed to brand your products for the most part with Amazon.  Do you know how badly it kills me to not add my branded little “thank you” notes and cute packaging?
I could break the rules and do that BUT I have no desire for Amazon to take down my little store.
So no “cuteness” for my Amazon folks sadly.

I am not giving up on Amazon….I just think I need to do some tweaking.
I need to add more of my products but adding new products that have yet to be in the system is time consuming because you have to add SKU’s and such.
I plan to try my hand at Prime in the coming months…that should be an adventure for sure!

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Boy that post got long!
Hopefully it helped a few of you guys who want to have a go at starting a handmade biz.
Remember that your handmade journey is going to be unique to you!  Take from this what is helpful to you and leave the rest.

If you have any suggestions on what works for you or want to share your story I would LOVE LOVE LOVE any advice or knowledge.  I am a knowledge seeker.  Always have been.
I have never, a day in my life, been the gal who “knows it all“.
I am the first to ask “How did you do that!!!?”

There are soooo many options out there these days to help us grow our businesses that it makes starting a little biz a doable adventure!
My mother made a living back in her day off of craft fairs and selling to those who did country wide craft shows.  One day I am going to try my hand at a craft show myself.
I like people too much not to give it a try!
I can’t imagine how much fun I would have talking to people all day long and actually hearing which of my products they like and which ones are not favorites.
I think there is a huge value in that alone.  The joy of immediate feedback!
That and talking to actual humans and not just the shop cat 😉

Happy crafting my friends!

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Yesterday was a day of running running running…
Spike was not approving of my leaving him.  My boy is getting old.
He has been with us for well over a decade now and we can see him starting to slow down.
His days of endlessly catching balls…well he is good for a toss or two somedays but that is about it.
He was absolutely refusing to let me out the door yesterday.
All 10lbs of him solidly shaking and standing between me, the door and the outside world.
So I opened the door and he ran straight to the car, insisting he join me in the world.
I was heading out to Shalom Farms for a bit of volunteer photography work before picking up kids from school.
He was just sitting there refusing to GET OUT.
So I texted Steve and asked if this guy could just come with me…

I just kept thinking…”be here now“.
He isn’t going to be here for too many more years and well…as much of a pain as this fella can be he has been my constant companion for that decade I was just talking about.
He deserves a few more adventures in his little world.
Steve texted back with a “sure but bring a leash to keep him off the plastic“.
Easy enough…and if you know Spike he doesn’t leave my side and speaks fluent human.
This guy had the best day ever after that….

Spike has taught me so much over the years….mainly about loyalty and seeing past faults.
If you ever see me out and about with my little man just know…he is old and we are together more than not.  He seems to want his people more and more the older he gets.
Separation is not his strong point.
I can surly grant him small adventures and togetherness.
Those little adventures that keep his soul a buzz and his heart in the game a few more solid years.
Isn’t that what we all want out of life as well most days?
Just a little adventure in the now?

My “now” for today will be consisting of finally tackling my neglected garden and yard.
My little business has kept me busy busy busy.
My garden has taken the brunt of that “busy“.
Pitiful mess…so off I go to Lowe’s to grab wood for a new box.
We are hoping to build sometime in the next year…no clue where…no clue when.
Just a dream and prayer.  We shall see if it actually happens.
BUT it leaves me with the task of winding down the gardens around here a bit.
No worries though because I have some amazing farming friends and can’t wait for my CSA share from Broadfork farm to kick in.  I shall just leave the bulk of my food growing to the professionals this season…but I will still be out there getting dirty from time to time.
Playing in dirt is actually good for you!

Guess who is going with me to Lowe’s 😉

 

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Oh how I love this picture! ❤︎

Facebook always surprises me…this weekend someone who knew me “back in the day” found me.
See I RAN (pretty much literally disappeared) to Virginia from Ohio the week I turned 19 (25 years ago this week actually) and never looked back again at my old life…other than to be thankful I ran.
Of course I still have many people I love there but starting life over far far away…
It was what saved me.
Along with Daryl of course.  He actually is still very much my anchor.

We reminisced about our punk rock scene days back in Dayton.
Total mall rats.
Catching up on everything & touching on what growing up in that world was like for us back then.
That entire lifetime ago…

Most of us came from “broken“…just about everything in our lives for the most part back in those days was just so so broken.
The kids who were pretty much the lost boys of the Dayton Mall.
Each with stories that could make your heart drop and your stomach turn.  These kids knew what a hard life was long before they were old enough to legally be considered an adult.
A gaggle of kids who knew the dark places well before the internet was around.
They weren’t hanging out at high school football games or playing school sports like their counterparts because they were trying to survive in a world that was harsh and didn’t really want them.
They embraced being the misfits and owned it.

BUT BUT BUT you know what?
I survived. She survived…
So many of us not only survived but managed to thrive in spite of our not so easy beginnings!

And the stories we have to tell are huge, often triumphant and some continued to be heart breaking.
Stories I need to tell…that will be told one day.
They will at least be written…maybe not shared with the world but at least written.
Not sure if I am brave enough to share them with the entire world…just yet.

I have a solid group of my “not normal one bit” friends and those of you that have connected with me online over the years after I have shared bits of my own story here and there…
The ones who’s stories are similar and unbelievable. It’s a club of sorts.
A sucky club but a club none the less.

Growing up in dysfunction changes you and can make or break you.
It’s hard for those who have had “normal” everything their whole life to even imagine what it is like to live off of ramen noodles that you share with a herd of mice in your crappy apartment that your slum Lord doesn’t have to keep up because you are a minor and he knows you have nowhere to go….
The stories that make me smile and realize how far I have come.
The stories that I know had to happen to make me who I am.
The stories that are fantastically heartbreaking and inspiring all rolled up into one big ball.

I am extremely proud of all of us who pulled ourselves out of it all.
Above it. Always forward…seldom back.
We are every bit still those tough kids who defied the odds of everything the world threw at us.
She/He is still in there.
She/He is still tough.
She/He is still not giving a crap what anyone says about her because she knows the truth.
She/He is still 100% going to succeed in life no matter how many times another human being tells her she will “amount to nothing”.
She/He will be EXACTLY who she is…unapologetically and share that love of self and others with the world.
She/He will continue to pray her strength empowers others to be strong too.
She/He will find her happily ever after…hunt it down and grab it solidly.

Now go out there and remember…
You too can do “all the things” you have been told you can’t…every single day is a new opportunity to be better and happier than you were the day before.
I know. I have lived it.
I am still living it.
Actually every “today” is always the beginning of my next big adventure ❤︎

And again…be kind to your children.
One day they may just grow up to be brave writers 😉

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Oh yes…I just spent my entire morning with the boy child watching April (the giraffe) have her baby.
There is seriously nothing cuter than a baby giraffe I am thinking?

Ok well maybe there is BUT that baby giraffe is pretty darn adorable!

Of course I just had to make a little baby giraffe tee shirt…cause hello!!!   Did I mention how adorable that baby giraffe is?
I am dying to know if that giraffe in the next stall beside April is the dad?
These are the things I am positive everyone is dying to know.
You know what I am supposed to be doing?
Painting my front and back porches.  But no, I sit here watching a live cam and making tee-shirts.
So now I just need a baby again to wear one of these cutest of tee’s.  Just click on the tee to direct link to the shop if your babe needs one 😉
Now I swear I am getting my butt up and dressed…heading to Lowes and buying paint…then getting to work.
But what a great way to lose a morning 🙂
Don’t forget to check out the newest Unicorn children’s tee shirts as well…SUPER cute!! <3
Happy weekend everyone!!

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