Thursday, May 25, 2017

4 Tips For Starting Your Own Etsy Business

My little Etsy shop is not so little anymore. I started the shop in late 2011, but didn't get serious with it until about 5 years ago. I'm not going to lie. It did not take off as quickly as I'd initially hoped. Really, it didn't. I had these grand dreams of the sales rolling in. And they didn't the first few months. But every sale was a victory. And to be honest, I still do a little happy dance every time I hear that *chi-ching*.  I have learned quite a bit along the way and wanted to share a bit for anyone considering opening an Etsy shop.

For the sake of time, let's assume you've already narrowed down your niche' product or theme of your shop.

Disclaimer: I still have not read the Etsy Seller Handbook. Who does? Who has time for that? You go into it thinking, I've created an Ebay listing before, how hard would it be to create an Etsy one? Ha ha, right.

1.) Photos are sooooo important.
 Seriously, I'm not sure how I ever got my first sale with THIS photo....

Here is the same item (that has sold several times) but with a better photo.

2.) Renewing a listing often WILL NOT get you more sales / exposure. What it will get you is increased Etsy fees. The key to exposure if a good title, good description, good key words. Focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Also, networking is HUGE. Participate in giveaways that target your client audience and make meaningful and engaging posts on social media.

3.) This is probably true for any crafter / artist, even off Etsy... Do not overstock on supplies. Seriously, you will eat up any profit by investing too much in supplies. Find out what sells and stock up from there. I understand it's a necessity to come up with fresh new items, but I try to clean out and organize my crafting area at least once a month to determine what my "actual" supply needs really are. And I'll admit, my supplies are a bit out of hand at the moment. Maybe it's time for a supply destash?

4.) Pricing is important. I don't know how many times I am on Etsy thinking either, "Wow, are they on crack... $30 for a wipes case?" or "How do they make a profit at $5 for a wipes case." Know how much your supplies cost you, calculate your Etsy and payment processing / Paypal fees, and your time as an artist. Price competitively, but price for profit as well!

I am so proud of where my little shop is today. In 5 years, this little shop has had nearly 8700 individual sales on Etsy. I am no expert by any means, but must be doing something right. I welcome any questions you may have about selling on Etsy. Of course, I also welcome hearing any additional suggestions ya'all might have too!

Happy Thursday!!

            Use Code BlogRB for 25% off your order at The Rogue Baby now through 5/31/17.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

5 Things I've Learned on the Ketogenic Diet

The Ketogenic Diet is a pretty hot topic right now. There is a lot of information out there floating around and it can seem overwhelming. Before embarking in this journey, both my husband and I did extensive research. The Ketogenic Diet was originally developed to treat epilepsy in the 1920's and 1930's. It is a high-fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. This way of eating causes your body to be retrained to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. When your body is burning fats for fuel, it is in a metabolic state call Ketosis. The Ketogenic diet is also often recommended by physicians for patients with Diabetes.

I personally do not have Diabetes or Epilepsy, but do suffer from Migraines and Diabetes runs in my family. Depending on your Migraine triggers, there is evidence a Ketogenic diet could help reduce Migraine occurrences. I've also always struggled with low blood sugar, which looking back I now contribute to a diet with too many carbs and sugars. One major change that had to be made to ease into a Keto way of life was that I had to reintroduce meat into my diet after over a year of being vegetarian. I'd be lying if I also wasn't a little sad to give up alcoholic beverages.

Disclosure: I am not a physician and none of my comments are meant to be medical advice. Please consult your physician with any health related questions. This is not a sponsored post but does contain affiliate links.

I started Keto in late February and here is what I've learned so far.

1.) Sugar is in EVERYTHING. Seriously, the first grocery shopping trip was painful. Here in America, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, etc is added to so much of our "food". Even things you wouldn't expect! Check your salsas, condiments, sandwich meats, salad dressings, and even seasonings. Even foods that do not have sugary or sweet flavors have these additives, so make sure to check.

Generally, Keto is a zero sugar way of eating (except for naturally occurring sugars in fruits), due to the low carb part. I'm eating about 20-25g of carbs per day at this point which means I'm not eating much fruit, but tons of leafy green vegetables. And honestly, I'm not craving sweets much. I do have Stevia on hand to add to coffee occasionally and have indulged in some Zevia soda a couple times.

2.) Keto Flu is REAL. The first couple days were totally fine and then it hit. The Keto Flu hit me like a ton of bricks. Headache, nausea, and overwhelming feeling of awfulness. This is your body detoxing from all the sugars and carbs and making that metabolic switch to burning fat. It's like a right of passage. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? It passed relatively quickly (less than a week) and afterward I started feeling really amazing. My energy levels are consistent, I am sleeping better at night, and just overall feeling better than pre-Keto.

There are many suggestions out there on how to beat the Keto flu, and it does affect everyone differently. My best recommendations are to drink lots of water, keep your electrolytes up, and do not give up. It's worth it!

3.) Splurge on the good meats. If within your budget, definitely go with what is least processed and most natural. For example, Grass Fed Beef without hormones, all natural pork with no antibiotics / hormones / nitrates. And go for the fatty cuts. You may have conditioned yourself to believe that chicken is the healthiest protein source, but for Keto, you're wanting to stick with moderate protein and high fat. Go for that 85% grass fed ground beef.

To my surprise, my body didn't have difficulty adapting back into eating meats, and I contribute that partially to the types of meat we purchased and easing back into it. And for those of you thinking those meats are so expensive -- it's been a total wash for us (if not savings), since we are no longer going out to eat anywhere near as often and our microbrew purchases have drastically decreased.

4.) Make sure to eat your Fiber. With all the fats and meats you're eating with Keto, do not forget to keep an eye on your fiber intake. Make sure to eat lots of leafy greens. Spinach and Kale are my favorites besides a good spring mix salad. If you're still having discomfort and irregularity, try a natural fiber supplement. My favorite is Barlean's Digestive Blend. The Flax, Chia, and Coconut blend is great in smoothies or protein shakes.

5.) Bulletproof Coffee is Keto Life. Butter in your coffee? Seriously? Yes! Or my favorite is black coffee, MCT Oil, and a bit of heavy cream -- blended to frothy goodness. MCT stands for medium-chain triglyceride and is derived from coconuts. It is concentrated - so be careful and ease into your intake. (I can go more in depth on another day.) My favorite MCT Oil so far is this one. Aside from heavy cream and butter, cheese is the only other dairy in my diet.

I can't wait to share more of my Keto experiences with you, including some amazing recipes I've whipped up! While I've decided to treat this as a way of life, versus diet, I'm happy to report I've lost nearly 15 pounds in less than two months with relatively zero exercise. Not too shabby! Even though the weight loss is an awesome side effect -- the best side effect is the way I feel! Originally it was a "Let's try this for 30 days" thing, but I plan to see this through for at least another few months. Afterward, I may relax into a more Paleo style of eating, but we'll just have to wait and see!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Adventures with The Rogue Baby: Driving.....

Do you ever go back and read something you wrote a long time ago and first things first, it reminds you how super hilarious you are? But also, so thankful you're not quite at this same point in your life anymore?  Check out this post of mine from July 2013.

Your Welcome!

Adventures with The Rogue Baby: Driving.....: Back in April I took on a new position at work. I not only had to move my office 30 miles away, but I also get to travel a lot. Not the fun ...

Friday, April 14, 2017

How to Tackle Spring Cleaning Like a Boss

The sun is out here in Southern Oregon and it's starting to feel like Spring finally! I'm starting to get that Spring cleaning itch again and thought I'd share a few tips on how I tackle this task and some tasks I've added over the years.

Since I work full time during the week and work my Etsy shop on the nights and evenings, in can feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. And, I'll admit, my house could always be a little cleaner. I try to make sure to accomplish small tasks daily and generally dishes are done, floors are clean, bathrooms are clean, etc. But you know, life happens and stuff collects around the house. So for me, Spring Cleaning is all about deep cleaning and decluttering. So here goes!

1.) Purge -- If you're like me, Spring Cleaning typically involves a run to the thrift store to donate clothes my daughters outgrown among other household items. What about the Linen Closet? This is a great time to inventory the sheets, towels, and determine if they're all really needed. Also, how about the Pantry? Go through and remove anything expired. Better yet, do you have something non-expired that's been there awhile? Find a recipe to incorporate it in -- or donate it to your local food bank.

2.) Care for your Appliances -- Sure we all clean the oven, microwave and fridge. But Spring Cleaning is a great time to clean out your dishwasher and clothing washer as well as the dryer vent on your clothes dryer. These appliances generally don't get the same amount of "love" as the aforementioned.

3.) Purging some more -- what about the medicine cabinet? Clear out all those expired prescriptions. How about the freezer? We all know there is that one mystery freezer bag of something in the back of the freezer with a sold inch of ice around it. Throw that away!

4.) HVAC ceiling vents and Walls -- This is probably something that should be done every 3-6 months, but let's get real -- this is a once a year thing around my place.

5.) Turn on some upbeat music, put your hair in a messy bun, and handle it. As basic as this sounds, I find cleaning so much more enjoyable with some good music cheering me on. And hey, think of all the calories you're burning!

I'd love to hear your tips and tricks for Spring Cleaning too!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Missing in Action, Stretchy Pants, and Moving Forward

Hello! Hello!

It's been awhile.

There was a time I checked my blog and dozens of others multiple times a day. When I first started up this blog in 2011, I had just started my Etsy shop and was looking for ways to interact with and reach people. I loved reading other mommy blogs and was enamored by the whole blogging community.

Then things changed.

Life got busy, the Etsy shop kept me hustling, my full time job evolved and became more demanding, and I kind of just stepped away. And now, as I'm writing the first blog post back, I wonder. Is blogging really even a thing anymore? I'd like to hope so. Reading and writing used to be my release. I'll be honest when I tell you I haven't read a book cover to cover in over 7 years. (Coincidentally, my daughter will be 7 in April.) I was the kid who loved writing stories, keeping journals, and reading into the early hours of the morning. And that carried into adulthood. My little blog gave me the opportunity to write again and I'm sorry I've neglected it for so long.

So where have I been and what have I been up to?

Traveling abroad in Asia and taking in the amazing sights of Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Singapore? (Nope, but my baby sister has been for the past 4 months and I'm totally living vicariously through her social media posts.)

For the past year, I was sucked into the world of LuLaRoe. Yes, the cult-like world of stretchy pants (I say this somewhat fondly). Let me preface by saying, I never in a million years thought I was a leggings person. In January 2016, I purchased my very first pair. When they came and I tried them on, I told my husband, "I'm not sure I'll ever feel comfortable wearing these in public." But I did and... by the end of March I was in the "queue" to onboard as a Consultant. And now, 1 year later, I'm officially ending my time as a legging saleswoman. Where'd it all go wrong? Is it not all unicorns, sunshine, and rainbows? I'll break down my top few pros / cons of the experience. These are my opinion and are from my personal experience only.

*First dibs on items you get in your orders (Helloooo, keeping this gorgeous dress for myself, thank you very much.)
*Opening a new box of inventory is like a present - you never know what you're going to get.
*I met some very neat ladies through my time with LuLaRoe and will continue to shop from them when I need a LuLa fix.

* Big initial investment. $6000+ just for inventory and then all supplies needed (hangers, racks, dress form, shipping supplies, etc.)
LuLaRoe had around 5000 or so consultants when I signed up. By the end of 2016, I believe that # was 65,000+. The company is new and going through growing pains, but the rapid growth has caused backorders, quality issues, lack of consultant support, oversaturation in online sales, etc.
* Be prepared to carry credit card debt if you don't have the cash for initial order (and subsequent minimum monthly orders for $500+). Consultants are often encouraged by up-line to order multiple times per week, which at minimums would equate to another $4,000 - $8,000 PER MONTH. The idea is, the more inventory you have, the more you'll sell.
* LuLaRoe is a Multi-Level Marketing company (a.k.a Pyramind Business Model). No way around it. It is what it is. The saving grace is LuLaRoe actually sells a decent product.
* Be prepared to work 24/7 and hustle hustle hustle to try to sell all the merchandise you've now got sitting around your home. If you're ok carrying a ton of credit debt, sure you could keep it as a hobby, but ultimately, the majority of consultants are not making the profits they hoped for. And they are made to feel like they are not trying hard enough when they aren't successful. If you have time to frequently do local events and in home pop ups, your chances of success will be immensely greater, but working full time, my main source of sales was online.

I will stop to say now, I had an AMAZING sponsor who never pressured me, pushed me, or told me stories of fluffy unicorns whisking me away from my day job to be earning millions. I am so thankful for her! I do hope that LuLaRoe gets their stuff together before they ruin a good thing. People love their clothes. They have fun and unique things you can't find elsewhere and in a variety of sizes that fit women in a flattering way. There has been a lot of bad press as of late with the company, most of which I honestly haven't read into, because, well I'm terminating my affiliation soon and who needs more drama?

After this long winded rant.. my two cents.. if you are thinking of becoming a LuLaRoe consultant -- please, please, please do your research and make sure this is the right financial decision for you and your family. Find the RIGHT sponsor (Message me if you'd like to get the contact info for mine.)

Ok, enough about leggings that many claim feel like a dairy product. (BTW, who decided they wanted something that felt like buttah' on their legs? Sueded. Super soft. Cozy. All words I'd use. Butter? I think butter and I think greasy... but I digress.)

During my LuLa coma, I not only neglected this little piece of my world. The Blog. But also the shop -- The Rogue Baby. Which is still around and on Etsy. I've been blessed with nearly 8500 Etsy sales over the past 6 years. I've decided it's time to refocus on doing what I enjoy. And that's being creative. I miss the brainstorming and piecing together new designs and the whole creative process. Be prepared for more to come. Maybe a relaunch is in order?

I've also taken a slight step back in my career. 100% by choice. I decided I was done with traveling for work and wanted a position where I'd be near home. In Fall 2016, I took a position that most days keeps me within 30 minutes of home, and no overnight travel. It's immensely helped with stress, mommy guilt, and the mileage on my car. I have an amazing employer who created a position for me with no change in compensation. So grateful for this!

So, I think that's about it.

Oh, but wait, there's more. I've recently began the "Keto" journey. No, I'm not eating bacon and butter for every meal. My husband and I did extensive research before beginning the lifestyle change. Really digging in to how ketosis works, what are the most nutritious and healthy foods to eat (grass fed, lots of greens, healthy fats, etc.) Previously we had been vegetarian for over a year -- so reintroducing some meat has taken some adapting. I may or may not post some keto friendly recipes from time to time, and my personal progress to becoming a healthier me. (I'd be lying if shedding a few pounds wasn't part of the incentive either).

Ok, so for real this time. You hang up. No. You!

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