Doing Inventory

I do inventory every few months, which is usually uneventful other than the mess it makes. This time I found NEW hair sticks mixed in with my listed items! Yay!! I’m listing them as I type, so they’ll be available soon. (multitasking is probably what caused this hullabaloo to begin with.)

Success Stories – Pride Designz

Below are highlights of the Shopify podcast with Pride Designs. The owner, Rizala Carrington, created a successful fanpage about a subject she’s passionate about, and her process of integrating a monetary product. (I tweaked a few typos/words here and there to make it easier to read.)
    To watch the podcast or read the full transcript, visit:
    • Choose something that you’re truly passionate about because it’s so much easier to find content, to be engaging, to just not get tired of running the community because what’s so important is building a community, being engaged and being passionate about that community.
    • When you’re starting a business, you should start a business where you would be proud to stand on a stage and talk about it. Just thinking of it that way, I think makes a big difference because there’s certain things, would you tell your mom about your business or would you be okay talking to people about your business. I think that’s a good exercise to go through when it comes to deciding what you want to be doing.
    • With the Lesbian Pride it was so natural to me. It didn’t even come up as an idea [for a business] because it was so natural. I was always reading articles, engaging other fan pages, liking videos, watching videos, it just seemed like a form of entertainment. I was just like, “Wait, this can be a niche I can be a part of.” For example a lot of people watching boxing or UFC or MMA and they’re super passionate about it. They love it. They know all the fighters, they talk about things. They don’t necessarily compete in it, but they are so passionate about it, but they wouldn’t consider that a niche they can join because they think, “Oh I have to be a fighter.”

    No, no. Just being someone who is entertained by a niche, it can be used as your niche to monetize. It should be something natural. Before I got started I wrote down everything that I was and everything that I accomplished. I wrote down I’m a wife, I’m a salesperson, I’m a lesbian, I’m this, I’m that. I used to do this, I used to do that. I wrote down everything that I could possibly think of, everything that I’ve done, my favorite TV shows. That’s where I was like, okay, these are the things. Let me try to figure out what I can do, and then when I found it, I was like, “Oh I’m a lesbian. I’m also interested in LGBT issues. Let me research this niche.” Then I promise you, almost every single niche has some type of buying power.

    • [regarding Likes on a FB fan page] “Likes do not equal money, but what likes does is it can allow you to equal more engagement because you have a person who’s already somewhat warmed up to you. To me this is the formula, likes equal engagement, equal clicks, equal email, equals money to me.
    • I have an auto responder set up as well as scheduled broadcasts. I try [not] to do too much auto responder stuff. Because sometimes the same person will join the same email list twice or something. I just keep it fresh. I have two email auto responders set up, and then I just do broadcasts. They’re either joining another email list that qualifies them more into being a buyer, or it gets them to try to buy something, or it gets them to interact. I sometimes send them back to a quiz. I say, “Oh okay, you just joined my email list. Check out this quiz.” Keep them in a circle. I try to get to know them, keep them entertained, keep them used to opening my emails, clicking my links, commenting, sharing. I want them to just engage with me. I don’t care what you’re doing. Just engage.

Success Stories

I love reading success stories.  Even when I was a teenager searching for which direction my life might take, I sought out success stories: the meaning in other people’s lives, how they got to where they were at that moment in time.  In a previous blog, I had a collection of Etsy’s Quit Your Day Job stories, unfortunately they were lost when I neglected the blog too long.  With this new blog, I decided to recreate the topic and went on a search for stories to include along with my truncated stories from Etsy.

TED Talks – What Makes You Happy 
What I found in my new research is disheartening.  Many stories focus on how to break into a particular field, and while it’s possible to take the advice of a pet photographer and apply it to photographing children, the advice isn’t applicable to other ventures.  Taking dog training classes is irrelevant if you’re baking cupcakes or designing pillows.  I found suggestions that involve investors, mentors, attending seminars… Having been involved in the handmade community for 15 years, I know first hand that much of this advice is out of reach for most artisans and crafters who want to take the next step with their hobbies.  Taking a cross-country road trip for inspiration (yes, someone gave this as advice in their interview) is also out of the question.  As micro-business owners, we are B-U-S-Y.  We are juggling more hats than we can handle as it is, so there is no time in the schedule to go for a long drive, other than our drive to succeed with our dreams.
Here are some of the tips I collected that are relevant and applicable to many handmade businesses:
  • Research, learn, study…  All the information you need is free online, it just takes time to track it down.  When you’ve exhausted this resource, you still might want to take classes to continue growing (ie metal working, sewing)
  • When looking for inspiration, step out of your comfort zone and see what else is going on in the world.
  • Start now. Don’t wait for your dreams to come to you.  Whether you start small are take a giant leap of faith, just get started.
  • Ask for help when you need it.  If you now someone who can build a website, ask if they’ll give some tips.  Have a bookkeeper in your network?  Hit her up for some advice.  If you’d feel better paying for assistance but lack the funds, barter skills.  Not sure what to trade – ask if they need a babysitter or you could run a few errands for them.
  • Believe in yourself.  If you don’t, then who else will?
  • Use criticism to your advantage.  Sometimes another person’s opinion can help improve your technique or steer you in a direction you hadn’t thought about.

Advice I wouldn’t give:

  • Go all in.  This is doesn’t work for everyone, so don’t feel you have to go down this path.  Most “makers” would love to quit their day job and devote every moment of their day to creating, but in today’s economy, it can be foolish to take this chance.  Some things take time to learn, so taking things slow can be the right decision.
  • Chase every opportunity.  You could end up down a road paved in gold that you wouldn’t have found on your own, but chances are greater that you’ll end up wasting time and resources that would have been better spent if you had stayed focused.  Think long and hard before heading in a different direction.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your dreams with your loved ones.  Sometimes, it’s better to keep your crazy ideas to yourself than to have someone smash them to bits.  Be selective who you talk to and make sure they will be supportive and encouraging.  If the creator of the Pet Rock had told the wrong person what he was thinking…. (It actually started as a joke made to friends, but you get the idea.)

In the end, you’ll never know unless you try it so take a cleansing breath and jump in.