Thursday, September 27, 2012

RUaD Shop Goals for October!

At this point in my little business, I think it's really important to have smart short term goals that I can focus on each month.  Since my business is so new, these short term goals are helpful in making me move forward & focus on what needs to be done each day & week in order to bring my business where I want it to go.  So, now that it's almost October (oh my GOSH!  Really!?), I decided to go back & look at my September goals page & see if I met them.

My goals for September were as follows:

Leather & Lace Journal

*Add at least 20 items to my shop Check!  I did 33 actually!
*Create at least 2 new journal binding designs Check!  My full leather journals & soft cover stab binding books are new!
*Sell at least 4 items Yes!
*Make at least 2 treasuries a week Oops, didn't hit this
*Advertise on at least 3 blogs Yep, Paper & Stitch, Elsie Blaha, and Love Stitched
*Send out at least 2 emails to my email list (you can sign up to receive them in the sidebar!) I sent one
*Take advantage of free advertising in places like facebook, flickr, etsy lush, craft juice, wanelo, etsy carnival
Yep doing this regularly!

I think that I did pretty well.  I also got a lot of things done that weren't on the list.  I started tracking my advertising so I can see how much I spend on ads & how many views those ads result in, making it more clear where to put my money for the best results.  I know this will be an ongoing process, but it's great to have an idea of how these things are doing.

Soft Cover Stab Bound Book

I also applied to two holiday shows in my area.  I already received notice that I got into Flint Handmade's Holiday Market.  (Come visit me at the Masonic Temple in Flint on November 24th!).  I also applied to another 2 day market that's in December, but I haven't found out if I got in yet, so I'm keeping it a secret 'till I find out :)  Although if you follow me on Facebook &/or Twitter I did announce it there when I applied!

Coptic Stitch Handbound Journal

So with that, here are my goals for October:

*Be a little more ballsy & go to a local crafty events.  Face to face marketing can be the best kind & I feel that I am totally missing the ball on this one.  I'm an introvert, so usually when I hear about events, I get excited about them, but then I have a hard time motivating myself to go.  Especially if I don't know anyone else attending.  So scary for an introvert!  That means I either have to look silly standing in a corner looking at my feet or I have to... actually talk to people *gasp!*
*Add at least 20 items to my shop
*Make at least 2 treasuries a week
*Send out at least 2 emails to my email list
*Figure out a marketing schedule... and implement!
*Research shops to pitch my product to
*Start figuring out my holiday marketing plan
*Start getting ready for the holiday market event(s)!!!

I'm also trying to decided if I want to participate in the Nester's 31 days blogging event.  It starts on Monday... I know that my blogging has slowed down lately & I would like for it to pick back up some, the summer has just been crazy busy with races & the new shop & my regular job.  I have a couple of ideas of things I could do, but I need to figure out where I want my blog to go & what topic would best fit that I think.  Stay tuned..... :)

So what are your goals for October?  Anything fun?  Anything I should jump on board with?  Oh & if you'd like to feature my books anywhere, email me!!!  :-)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Paper & Pencil are the New Computer/IPad

I sit at a computer for most of my day.  I don't own an IPad or any other kind of tablet for that matter.  I'm not really sure what they are used for.  They are kind of a larger IPhone right, without the phone?  I feel like most people who have an IPad probably already have an IPhone, so what do they use the pad for that the phone doesn't do?  Maybe I'm missing something...

From here
Anyway, I still think that paper has a place in our lives.  Even with all this crazy technology going on, and even for those who DO have these things.  Who doesn't still use sticky notes?  Doesn't everyone use sticky notes?  They are sticky!  You can put them anywhere!  They are great for reminding you to do things :)  They are made of paper!

I'm all for reducing our use of paper.  I think we used to use too much of it, especially in the office.  We really used too much when I worked at the law office.  Yikes!  I keep most of my work files just on my computer.  It's pretty rare that I'll send something to the printer at work.  However, I do still want to make to-do lists on paper.  I still bring a pad of paper to meetings.  I still jot down phone messages on paper.  I still like to read from actual books.  At races, we still print out age group awards, even though we're also sending personal times to everyone's smartphones & results are online within the hour.  When editing documents, I like to have the actual printed document in front of me to mark up.  It's just not the same on the computer.

I think it's important to find your own balance.  Some people can read books on a screen, I can't.  Some people like to keep their calendar online (me) some like to have a paper date book.  Apparently, 87% of business professionals combine pen & paper with their digital work. So it's not just me here!

Leather & Lace Journal

As a creative person, having a notebook & pen with me at all times is cheep & easy.  You never know when the next best idea is going to pop into your head & you'll need to have something to jot it down on so that you don't forget it in 2 minutes.  You know that happens!  If you rely on an electronic device to do this on, then instead of just grabbing & jotting, you'll likely have to "wake it up" then find an app to write your thought into, then type it in hoping that either your fingers don't accidentally hit the wrong (tiny) key to mess up your words & that auto-correct doesn't auto-correct a crucial word into something it shouldn't be.  If it does, then you'll have to go back & fix it.  When writing on paper, all that isn't a problem.

From here

I really think that having a written out to do list is better than a digital one as well.  The satisfaction of scratching off each item as it gets done is irreplaceable.  Plus, a paper version is sitting out, looking at you, always, until it's all done.  A digital one you can hide behind things or save it & close it for later.  It doesn't do much good reminding you to do all those things when it's gone!

There's plenty of things to write on paper & plaster onto paper.  I like to think it is not a dieing form of communication.  I love paper.  I love beautiful paper.  I love making beautiful paper into beautiful books.  Yes yes I do.  It smells & feels so lovely.  The pretty blank pages open waiting for me to grab my pencil & write something important in them.  (Yea, I like pencil better than pen too). 

Are you with me?  Do you love paper as well?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Autumn Wreath- Decor for Fall

It's starting to feel like fall here in Michigan!  I really love fall.  I love how it's not so hot in our un-air-conditioned house.  I love that I don't have to get up at seriously crazy hours to work races 'cause they are all able to start later in the morning since they don't have to "beat the heat".  I love the pretty leaves changing & the smell outside.  I love cider & donuts & pie & apples.  Oh it's lovely.  There are only two things I don't like about it... the fact that winter comes next & that the days start to get shorter.  No more having light ouside 'till 9pm.  booo.

Anyway, now that it's autumn, my summer wreath that's been hanging on my door since March was no longer cutting it.  I had to change it up!  Do you remember my wreath from last year?  Probably not since I only had like 2 readers.  Um, my wreath this year is much much better I must say.  Oh & my photography has improved big time.  It's still not very good compared to lots of other bloggers, but it's still 800x better than it was a year ago.

So here it is!

Oh I love it I love it I love it!

All it took was a foam wreath, some fall-colored felt, yarn & a stem of leafy berry branches that I got at Joann's.

I wrapped my wreath just like I did my winter snowflake wreath last year.  Then I made a bunch of flowers like I did for my bathroom hooks.  I used hot glue to secure the branches to the wreath first, then started randomly adding my flowers so that they ran along the bottom of the wreath & covered the end of the branches.

It's hanging on our front door, so it's behind our screen door, protected a bit from the elements, but still visible from the street.

I love it so much, I think it's very pretty & autumn-y.  Have you made a wreath for fall?  Tell me about yours in the comments!  I want to see!

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I will be linking this post up to these awesome sites & here:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Me Myself & I Link Party

Here we go!  This is my first time linking up to this link party, but it looked like such fun that I wanted to tag along! 

So here we go!

1)  When you're feeling down, what do you do to pick yourself up?

Sometimes I'll clean, being in a clean space is very calming for me because then there's not "work" staring me in the face that needs to be done.  I also will do something crafty, go for ice cream, bake something, or watch a funny movie.

2) If you had to live in a different time period, which would you prefer?

I think that I'd like growing up in the 40s or so?  It seems like a dreamy time...

From here

3) What's the most creative Halloween costume you've ever worn?

Oh my gosh I don't think I've ever had a creative one.  They've always been lame.  However, one of my roommates in college was "hot" once.  It was hilarious.  We found this red unitard thing at a store, it was actually kind of awful looking & she tried it on just to be funny.  When she came out of the dressing room I was like "oh that's hot".  Then somehow we decided that she should wear it for Halloween & be hot.  See how funny this is?  Every time someone would ask her what she was she'd say, "I'm hot!"   I wish I had pictures...

4) Five weird things we wouldn't know about you without being told

* I'm horrible (really really bad) at speaking in front of groups
* I have a BS & an MPA degree
* My baby-fine hair never grew up...
* I've run 3 marathons & a whole bunch of halfs
* I have 3 jobs currently

5) What would you tell your 16 year old self

Don't expect a college degree to be the "golden ticket" that everyone makes it out to be.  It's not.  Not by far.  Also think long & hard about what you want to do when you're done & the consequences of those decisions.  (aka, business, engineering or nursing would be better choices than law & public administration if "getting a job" is what you're going for.  Oops)

This was kind of fun!  Want to join?  Answer the questions then head over here to link up!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Advice Needed! First Craft Show Acceptance! Eeeeee!

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!  I'm soo excited right now!  TODAY I received my acceptance to participate in Flint Handmade's Winter Craft Market.  It is scheduled for the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 24th, from 10am to 4pm at the Masonic Temple in Flint, Michigan.  There will be a total of 45 crafters at the market & it will be my first craft market evaaa & I'm super pumped about it.

Flint Handmade

I really like that this market, being my first, is only one day instead of two.  I feel like that will be more manageable for me.  I am kind of nervous.  It seems like there is so much work to be done!  On the fly, here's a checklist of things I need to do or purchase before the show.

*Buy something to use as a tablecloth
*Figure out what I'm going to do for credit cards
*Buy a cash box or something for money & get lots & lots of change
*Create new postcards to handout
*Buy bags for purchases
*Figure out table layout, buy or build displays
*Create a show box with things like scissors, tape, push pins, paper & pens, calculator etc
*Figure out how to do pricing labels
*Create an email list sign up book
*Receipt book
*See if mom can work with me
*Inventory book
*Get a large sign made
*Make lots & lots & lots of beautiful books to sell

Handmadeology has a pretty great list of items you need to bring to a show, I'll probably use that to help with my packing.  I think though, that the packing & set up shouldn't be too difficult.  The thing that I'm most perplexed about is the number of actual items to bring.  I've heard that you should bring 2 to 3 times the number of items that you want to sell.  Ok.  But how many items is it reasonable to expect to sell?  Maybe I need to find out the number of attendees from last year?  This isn't a massive market, but it is the weekend after Thanksgiving, and I believe it is well advertised.  Plus, I think that I have a product that lends itself well to gift-giving.  Journals & photo albums are perfect gifts for those friends & family members who you don't know what to get them.  Everyone can use a blank book!

From Flint Handmade Holiday Market 2011
I have no idea how to predict this.  I guess since it's my first one the results of it should help me in the future figuring out how much product to bring for shows.  Maybe I should just plan on trying to over prepare for this one.

Anyone have any advice for me? Anything major that I missed on my preparation list above?  Any help figuring out how much product to bring?  My items are priced anywhere between $6 for a single little paper jotter notebook to $70 for a quality 252 page corded quarter leather journal.  I'm thinking that I'll need a larger supply of the less expensive things & a smaller supply of the more expensive ones right?

Well, I just wanted to share my excitement with you all.  If you have any suggestions for me please let me know in the comments!  I can use any & all I can get :) :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Business Without a Smartphone - Don't Let it Get You Down!

Do you have a small business?  Do you have a smartphone?  According to a survey done by Paychex, 85% of small business owners have used a smartphone in operating their business.  50% of those say they couldn't survive without them.  It kind of makes you wonder, how did people operate their small businesses before there were smart phones?


When thinking about writing this post, I did a Google search of "operating a business without a smartphone".  I literally got zero results.  All of the hits I scrolled through from the "without quotes" results were about using your smartphone for your business.  There weren't any I found about doing it without one.  I did find this funny article from the Harvard Gazette about turning your smartphone off.  It asks, "During a middle-of-the-night bathroom break, do you check the smartphone or not? What if a co-worker called with an emergency? What if the big deal went through? What if?"

This is similar to my phone
It wasn't that long ago that smartphones were brought on the scene.  It wasn't that long ago that cell phones themselves became widely available.  Remember back in the day when you bought a phone or two to have in your house & you kept the same phone for YEARS?  Now everyone pays for a new cell phone about every two years or so.  I didn't get a cell phone until my second year of college.  I now have a regular, flip-phone cell phone, I do not have a smartphone.  There have been many times when I have felt kind of bad about this.  Like I'm a complete dinosaur & out of the loop.  But, I'm not sure I'm ready yet to fork over the money for the smartphone itself & the extra monthly expense for a data plan, so I like to think that it is entirely possible to have a small business without a smartphone.

The appeal to the small business owner is that many say that the use of a smartphone saves them time.  This may be true if you have the personal ability to use the smartphone only for business & only for things that actually need to be done & are beneficial to your business.  I'm not sure many people are able to do this.  I can see how it would give you access to your email & social networking sites when on the go.  Maybe it's just because I've never had one, but I just don't see the harm in stepping away from all of those things every once in a while.  Do I need my email & twitter account attached to my hip at all times?  I don't think I do (and by the way, that's why they invented things like HootSuite!)

I actually think there are a lot of benefits to doing business & living without a smartphone.  For example:

Mobile Apps are Taking Over Our Lives

****When you aren't always looking at your phone, you are able to view life around you more.  People watching can lead to great ideas for things that you can do within your business to help others.

****Your posture might be better, when you're not hunched over your phone so much.  Head up instead of down!  If you're not staring at your phone, you will be more aware of your surroundings.

****You may feel more socially connected.  While those on their phones may be virtually connecting with friends, it's hard to have face to face & eye to eye contact with a screen.

Oh my really!?!?

****There seems to be a trend of people being addicted to social networking sites or internet sites that are not necessarily beneficial to their business.  These sites can be very distracting & if they are always with you, they can become even more so, to the point where you feel like you can't be without it.  If you have less time available to work on social networking, you're more likely to focus on what actually works for you & your business.

****Distracted driving is a major issue since the advent of cell phones.  Not having a smartphone is one less distraction on the road for you.  (And in many states, including mine, texting while driving is illegal.  Emailing while driving too!)

****If you're having a stressful workday, it's harder to "leave it at the office" when you have a smartphone in your pocket reminding you of that stressful day all evening.  Giving up the smartphone will help you disconnect from a stressful office or work situation.

There are a lot of benefits to using a smartphone.  But some of these benefits have alternatives outside of the smartphone that could be used to do the same things, like Paypal's system of accepting credit cards, or personal GPS or MP3 players just to name a few.

However, it is important to remember that even if you don't use a smartphone yourself, over 50% of the US population does so make sure your business sites are smartphone-friendly!

Do I wish I could play along with Instagram or that I knew what the heck Angry Birds was?  Yes, I do.  I also think that it wont be long before "everyone" has a smartphone & that it will be practically required to have one to operate a business or go to school or do your job.  I'll likely break down & get one eventually too.  But at this point, I don't have one, & I don't think I need one.  I do think it's totally possible to operate a start-up, single-person company without the use of a smartphone, so if you're thinking about starting a business, please don't think you HAVE to go get a smartphone right away, just be a little more willing to think creatively about how you organize your work day & your social networking time!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Livin' in a College Town Paradise...

I don't know why, but when I decided to write a post about living in a college town, the song Livin' in a Gangster's Paradise popped in my head.  I just go with it...

Hubby & I have lived in the same rental house, in the same college town, for almost 4 years now.  You might know how I feel about our house, but you may not know how I feel about my town, so I wanted to talk about how much of an impact the town you live in has on your lifestyle.

From here

I grew up in a township.  If you don't know what that is, it's basically an area that doesn't have a town or any sort of city center.  It's a post office that serves a "town" that's only houses.  Our township had tons of people living in it, but no grocery stores or restaurants or cute shops or anything really other than houses.  We had lots of pretty lakes (like the one above, which is in the township I grew up in) so lots of people lived there in order to live on a lake.  We didn't live on a lake though.  I felt like there was no place to go, & we didn't have sidewalks to go anywhere anyway.  I think this is part of why I really like cute towns with great little city centers with parades & festivals & farmers markets & that awesome feeling of community.

From here

After college, I lived in a ton of different suburbs.  I wanted to move to a college town or a city, but the jobs I was able to get were in the suburbs.  I dreamed about moving to Chicago, which seems to be where all the midwest kids go that want to go to the "big city".  I felt stuck.  I was single & felt alone.  It didn't seem like anything happened in the suburbs.  It felt like there was no place to go again.

From here

Right before living to where we live now, I lived in an amazing small town kind of community about a half hour drive from where we're at now.  I LOVED it.  It had cute little shops like a pottery place & a dog bakery & a wine bar & an awesome little local coffee shop.  It had festivals & races & parades & farmers markets & concerts.  The library was amazing & there was a part with a fountain in town.  There were beautiful houses & great places to walk my dog & fun places to eat or go out for a martini.  There was a 17-mile long paved trail that went through about 5 different towns in the area that came through our town which was great for biking or running.  It. Was. Great.

From here
Now, we live in a college town.  It's not really a big city, but it's not really a cute small town or a suburb either.  It's a town that is defined by the giant University in it.  It does have a lot of cultural opportunities, food, festivals, races, parades & a great farmers market too like my old little town.  But, parking is bad & the waiting to get a seat anywhere is sometimes too long to be worth it.  Places seem to be more crowded & more college-y & less townie.  Traffic has increased substantially since the students came back this past weekend.  So while it is in many ways like my favorite old town, it's really not.  The population is too transient for me to feel the kind of sense of community I used to feel in the smaller town.

I have never really lived in a big city other than the summer I spent interning in Washington DC in college, so I can't really comment on that.  But I'm certain that my favorite of the township, suburbs, small town & college town is the small town.  Technically, my lovely small town crush is kind of a suburb too, but it doesn't really feel like it.

What kinds of towns have you lived in?  Do you have a favorite?  Are you living in the type of town that you love now?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

25 Awesome Fall Projects for 2012 (That are NOT Halloween Related)

I love fall!  I don't love so much the unmentionable season that comes directly after fall, but I love crisp leaves & that autumn smell in the air.  I love the weather & how it's not sweltering & I'm actually able to actually work out in my non-air-conditioned home.  It's a great season for doing home-related projects too.  The days aren't as long as they are in the summer, but there's still a nice amount of daylight in the post-work hours.  I love breaking out the sweaters & scarves for the first time.  I like putting my bedspread back on the bed & being able to sleep with the windows open.  Ahhh autumn :)

There are so many cute fall projects out there that I'd love to do.  I know there is no way I'm going to get to all of them, or even half of them.  I don't have the space for them all in my home, nor the time to do them, nor the money.  So I will be content with gazing at them admiringly from my desk.  And sharing them with you!

Here are 25 awesome fall projects I wish I had the time, space, and moola to do this season!  These are all just fall themed, not Halloween... that's a whole 'nother thing!

Better Homes & Gardens

A Blog Called Wanda
A Beautiful Mess
Family Chic
Nest of Posies
Two Shades of Pink
Renewed Upon a Dream
Enjoying the Small Things
Fancy House Road
Cluck Cluck Sew
The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle
Real Simple
Multiples & More
Simply Vintage Girl Blog
Domestic Fits
DIY Craft Projects
Inspired Taste
Disney Family
Dollar Store Crafts
A Diamond in the Stuff
Stonewood Grass
I Am Momma - Hear Me Roar

Do you have any projects on your to-do list for autumn?

*Note - If you'd like to pin any of these items to Pinterest, please please please click the link & do so from their shop!!!  The sellers would really appreciate it!  Thank you.*

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