Blog Archives

I can help you with your business!

business-adviceAt the highest tier on my GoFundMe campaign, I’m offering up to a month of business support including:

*Branding
*Online storefronts
*Customer retention
*Customer service
*Social media
*Packaging and shipping
*Product photos
*Increasing sales
*Guerilla marketing
*Answering all of your questions (email with a few phone calls too)

Once I began offering these services, I realized this is a real passion for me – helping others grow their business by sharing what I’ve learned over the past 10 years.  You should have seen the length of my first email!  I had to stop myself LOL!  There are so many things I’ve learned from experience and teaching myself, and I can’t wait to share them.

Since I’m enjoying this so much, I thought I would offer it on Etsy and my website as well.  Here is the Etsy link:  Professional Advice for your Craft Business  It’s $150 for up to 1 month of ongoing support including any and all of the topics above and answering questions and brainstorming with you.

What do you think?  I’m really excited about this!  I look forward to working with you!

It’s been a while, but I’m back!

I had a run-in with a new nightgown and ended up with a horrible chemical burn.  Live and learn  – always wash new clothes before wearing them.  So yeah, this burn is finally almost healed 2 months later.  It’s been 2 months of awful pain and itching and frustration because I haven’t been able to do much every day other than fill orders and nap.  Took me back to my fibromyalgia days.  Ugh.

On a positive note, I’m almost back to normal and I’m so thankful.  I’ve gained a new respect for the time I have in a day and the importance of rest.

Now that I’m almost back to my old self, I’m starting Good Morning Shout Out on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/suncatchereyes/Project1

Every morning I’ll shout out a crafty business on Facebook.  To get a shout out, send me a Facebook message with your Facebook/Etsy/website link.  Only craft-related businesses please.  I know some of you don’t use Facebook, but that’s the only social media I can keep up with these days.  I’ll try to branch out more soon.

Happy crafting!

Workaround for PayPal Search, Payments Received, and History

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For the past week, PayPal search, payments received, and history have not been working for PayPal Business.  Finally today I received an answer, and I wanted to share it with you.

Since PayPal transitioned to their new website layout, the old one doesn’t work.  I had opted out of the new beta PayPal experience, and that is why it wasn’t working for me.  Here is the link to use to go to the new PayPal experience and have everything work properly:  Activity PayPal Business

A week is a long time to go without being able to search transactions.  What a relief to have PayPal working again!

Autism and a thank you

heart thank youI’m sure many of you know what autism is or even know someone who has it.  It sucks.  I’d like to slap it in the face.

As many of you know, I have two sons in their 20s.  They are my world.  After divorcing I raised them on my own.  What you probably don’t know is that my boys have autism, Asperger syndrome to be exact.  They are intelligent, kind, wonderful young men, and I love them with all my heart.  My oldest has finished almost 2 years of university.  He’s on a break right now, but he is hoping to return this fall.  My youngest is a graphic artist and has his own apartment.  I am so proud of both of them!

Day-to-day life can be a struggle for them though.  They deal with a lot of anxiety, stress, and depression on a daily basis.  They also need some support from me to do things most people take for granted, like going shopping or being in social situations or understanding some things.  Some days even those things are impossible even with my help.  I’m their main source of support.

When I was working full time and even part time, it was very difficult to get time off when I needed it.  Sometimes my sons need me multiple times a day, sometimes it’s only a couple times a week.  I always have to be reachable by phone.  Most employers are not understanding of this kind of situation even with the Family Medical Leave Act.  You can’t request time off when you don’t know when it will be or for how long.  That is the main reason I quit my job and now run my business full time.  I’m so thankful I had that option. Now I can be there right away when one of my sons needs something.

I wanted to post this to say thank you to all of you for your support and understanding.  My business wouldn’t exist without all of you, and I am truly thankful.  With your support you give me the time, energy, and finances I need to support my sons and let them live successful lives.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Michelle

Panic? Who me?

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It’s been 5 months since I quit my “day” job and became fully self-employed.  I have to admit something … I’m a planner and a worrier.  If I don’t have a solid plan of what will be going on for the next few months or year, I start to panic.  This was how I coped with raising 2 kids with challenges while working full time.  Everything had to be planned out, and if it wasn’t things could go horribly wrong really fast.  

Even though my bills are paid, I worry they won’t get paid in the future.  If I don’t immediately stop myself from worrying, my mind can build it into a big “oh my gosh, what am I going to do, the world will end” scenario.  Ugh. 

Late spring and early summer are always my slowest sales months because all my customers are doing summer things and enjoying the outdoors.  I know it and I get it.  The rational side of me knows that this happens every year and things will pick up.  Then the worrier side of me kicks in, and I panic about what if sales don’t pick up… blah blah blah.  Add that to some family changes that happened recently, and I totally panicked.  That’s why I wrote my last post about selling my business.  Yes, if the right offer comes up, I will sell it to the right person.  However, I love this business and want to keep doing it as long as I can as long as I can keep making ends meet and taking care of my family’s needs (and not losing my mind in the process). 

I guess I just had a moment of longing for days when I had less worries and a paycheck with benefits to count on and no business management responsibilities.  Stress is a difficult thing to deal with, especially when you’re on your own.  Sure I have friends, but that’s not the same thing as a second paycheck coming in.  I’m better now though.  I’m working on relaxing and enjoying the ride rather than trying to control everything.  Boy is that hard to do!

I’ll go back to filling orders and painting eyes now.  This afternoon I’m going to enjoy the sunshine and work in my garden.  Ohmmmmm… and relax!

Customer service – The backbone of a small business

custservThis week a few things happened that really made me think about the importance of good customer service.  I always try to provide the best customer service I can in my business, and customers really appreciate it.  It can be as simple as writing “thank you” on the packing slip or invoice, shipping orders earlier than expected, making sure to package your items nicely for shipping, and making a hassle-free exchange or refund policy.  I’m usually on the business side of customer service, but this week I was on the receiving end of excellent customer service.  Now I understand why some of my customers are surprised by the customer care I provide.

The first surprise I got was from my internet company.  I’ve had problems with my internet connection since I switched plans in October … same company, just different plan of service.  After lots of repair visits and changes to my account, it’s finally working right.  The surprise came when my account rep. told me he would be giving me a month of free service because of what happened.  It was a really good feeling to know that they cared about my satisfaction with their service.

The other surprise I got was when I called the company that made my Ninja blender.  I love my Ninja – it can turn shredded coconut into coconut cream in less than 5 minutes and makes the smoothest sauces.  The problem was a design flaw in the handle where food and water got stuck and couldn’t be cleaned.  I called to ask if there was a way to take apart the handle to clean it because I didn’t want to break it.  What a surprise when they said they would be sending me out a new pitcher and locking lid!  I really felt like a valued customer and felt they went above and beyond to respond to my needs as a customer.

After these experiences this week, I am more motivated than ever to provide the best customer service I possibly can.  As a small business owner, my customers are my livelihood.  I appreciate every order whether it’s $3 or $300.  I am so thankful for every comment, good or bad, that customers take the time to send me.  The good comments make me feel good and let me know what I’m doing right, but the negative comments are even more important as they help me improve my business and make it better.

I take advantage of the post office!

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I admit it.  The U.S. Post Office has a service that I take advantage of 2 to 3 times a week, and it really helps my business.  If you ship at least 1 package by Priority Mail, you qualify for free pickup.  Many days I have lots of smaller orders but no Priority Mail orders.  On those days, especially if I’m not planning to run errands, I will pay a little bit extra to upgrade a large order from First Class Mail to Priority Mail in order to qualify for free pickup.  It’s an easy way for me to ensure I’m able to mail orders every day for less money than the gas it would take to drive to the post office.  So if you place a large order, don’t be surprised if you get it faster than you expected in a Priority Mail padded envelope.  It’s a little something special from me and the post office.

Let me help you promote your business!

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Do you use Suncatcher Craft Eyes in projects you sell?  I’m happy to help you get the word out!  There are several different ways to do this.

First of all, if you add my link & image to your website, I will do the same on my Links page.

You can send me photos of your creations to include them in the Customer Creations Gallery on our Facebook page, and don’t forget to include the website link to your online shop because I’ll add that too.

If you’re going to be at a craft fair, let me know and I’ll get the word out on my Facebook & Twitter accounts for you.  I can also send you promo cards to hand out to people about Suncatcher Craft Eyes (with a discount code!), just ask.

You can also connect to me on Flickr and add your photos to our Flickr group at http://www.flickr.com/groups/blueberries/ .

Here’s to a prosperous new year!

A day in my life

It has been a few months since I quit my day job, and it isn’t so scary anymore.  To be honest, I did have a few moments of “what did I just do?!” panic. Now that I have a daily routine down and a couple months under my belt, I’m feeling much more comfortable.

The freedom to do what I want when I want is priceless … except that I enjoy my work so much that I have to force myself to stop at 5 o’clock.  That also means no opening email after 5 either because when I start opening emails, then I start answering emails, and then that leads to checking Facebook and Twitter and updating websites and possibly even filling orders.  I’ve been known to “just check my email” for 3 hours.

My dog is enjoying my flexible schedule too.  That means more belly rubs and snuggles for him and less grumbling and being cranky for me.

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This is where Oliver keeps watch over the office, right behind my desk.

Oh yeah, this was going to be a day in my life, wasn’t it.  Rather than schedule everything, I’ve sort of played it by ear for a while and let a natural schedule develop.  First thing in the morning, coffee in hand, I go in my office and answer emails.  Then it’s on to checking painted eyes for quality and packaging them for shipping.  Once that is done, I print off packing slips from PayPal and Amazon.  From those packing slips, I package the clear, black, and budget eyes that can be shipped right away.  This is the bag I keep by my desk for packages to be mailed (most days it has more packages than this):

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I have the best postal carrier ever because she picks these up for me almost every day.  I mail them myself on days when I’m driving into town (a couple days a week).

After all the shipping labels have been printed and packages prepared for mailing, then I paint all the custom craft eyes that have been ordered.  Those will dry overnight (or possibly 2 nights depending on the weather), and then the process starts all over again the next day.  Want to know a secret?  I work weekends too!  I know, I know.  I can’t help it!

While I’m doing all that stuff above, I’m also browsing around Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other sites.  I also try to think of a relevant blog post to write up for you guys.

That’s about it.  Once I’m done with all that, I do the usual household chores, spend time with my dog, and work on my afghan.  The last granny square afghan I made was when I was in high school, and it really needs to be replaced.  It’s my favorite blanket.  When the weather gets really cold, there’s nothing like a heavy afghan on top of the bed to make me feel all snuggly warm.