June 25, 2014

My Apps Recommendations for Etsy Shop Owners

As a creative business owner, I cannot tell you how much I rely on my phone. Not only can I manage my Etsy shop on-the-go, I have instant access to coupons or I can update my shop's Facebook page at my finger tips.

My phone of choice is the iPhone 5s so I'm not sure if all of the apps listed below are available to Android users.

1. Sell on Etsy. Last April, Etsy finally released an app specifically geared for its sellers. Hallejuah! You could access your shop in a round-about way using the standard Etsy app, but Sell on Etsy let's you do even more. You can do everything on it from answering conversations to managing orders to even creating and listing items.

2. Facebook Pages. Social media continues to be a fantastic means of advertising and branding. Personally, I've had more success with Facebook (although Instagram has been a close second). With Facebook Pages, you can post directly to your shop Facebook page from your phone. I can also respond quickly to any comments on my posts.

3. Hobby Lobby. I know. I just stinks so bad that my job requires semi-weekly trips to my favorite craft store. Darn. Ha! Anyway, I love Hobby Lobby's app for two reasons. First, it's a quick way to see what they have marked down for the week. Second, you've got that golden 40% off any regular priced item coupon right in the palm of your hand!

4. Retail Me Not. I use this app for coupons from Michaels. Personally, I find the Michael's app frustrating and a little cumbersome to use. The coupons are super easy to find with Retail Me Not. In my opinion, this is a must-have app for any store. If you want to save space on your phone, you can find coupons to Hobby Lobby and JoAnn's on this app - just not their weekly ads.

5. JoAnn's. Once again, thou shalt never pay full price for a regular priced item. Use that coupon!

6. Craft Gawker. Every once and a while, you need a little inspiration to get the creative juices flowing. Craft Gawker is perfect for browsing DIY eye candy.

7. Pinterest. Need even more inspiration? Feed your Pinterest addiction. No judgement here!

8. Blogger or WordPress. If you have a shop blog like I do here, having the platform app is a valuable tool. If I'm out of my office and away from a computer, it never fails that I get an idea for a blog post. I actually got the idea for this one yesterday while shopping at Hobby Lobby (surprise, surprise) for supplies for my next craft show. I whipped out my phone, created a new post and wrote the idea in the post to go back to in the future.

9. Instagram. It's the best for posting pictures of your latest and greatest products to get feedback. I also love it because it gives your followers a unique behind-the-scenes look into your shop and you can link it up directly to your shop Facebook Page account. Genius! Of course, it's also good for stalking some of your fellow Etsy shops that you love.

10. Rhonna Designs. For professional and pretty looking pictures that will stand out from the rest, I suggest this app. I love it. I've also noticed I get more interactions with pictures I've edited using this app.

Picture using Rhonna Designs app
What other apps do you utilize to run your Etsy shop?


June 19, 2014

Top 3 DIYs for 4th of July

Happy Thursday!

A couple days ago I debuted the newest invitation in my shop. (You can purchase the digital file here or printed invitations here.)

Can you believe Independence Day is a mere three weeks out? Time to break out the hot glue gun and get to crafting some DIY masterpieces! I've searched high and low for some July 4th themed projects worthy of sharing and I think I've found some you're going to love. 

My thoughts: Simple and quick. These would make some adorable hair clips indeed, but you could use these all around your home to decorate. Personally, I would use them to accent my 4th of July wreath!

Polka Dot 4th of July Mantel from LandeeSeeLandeeDo
My thoughts: This would be the perfect weekend project. You could also play around with the concept a bit and make it your own. For example, I have a large antique window that always sits on my mantel. Instead of the white backboard, I'd just leave my window up and string that bunting on the top of it. 

4th of July Rag Wreath from Sassy Sanctuary
My thoughts: I don't know why, but this wreath just looks so rustic and Americana that I am obsessed with it! If you horde fabric scraps like me, you already have almost everything to complete this DIY! P.S. Her Halloween rag wreath is just as cute! 

What DIY projects will you be doing to decorate for the 4th of July this year?


June 17, 2014

How to Save $$$ on Project Life

Happy Tuesday!

If you know me, two things I'm passionate about are Project Life and saving money. I've regularly posted on these two topics. (The two most popular? Project Life Obsessing and Grocery Grumbling: How We Only Spend $60 a Week On Groceries.)
What is Project Life? It is a product line created by Becky Higgins which is aimed at taking the guess work out of layout design. Her product line offers up a variety of coordinating albums, journaling cards and photo pocket pages. Ultimately, Project Life is a method of scrapbooking using pocket pages to lay out a page without glue or fancy embellishments. It's specifically focused on recording memories through journaling instead of spending all your time jazzing up your page with glitter, stickers and rub-ons.
To be completely honest, the name-brand PL (Project Life) items are expensive. I thought it was pricey a year ago when I started and I still feel that way. You need three key items to complete a Project Life album: Core Kit + 12x12 Binder Album + Pocket Pages Pack. Each of these items are $30 a pop. That's $90 for the basics! No dividers, embellishments, envelopes. Heck! You have to still shell out the money for a year's worth of pictures to go in the thing.

After completing one full year album and getting half way through my second, I've learned a few tricks and tips to make Project Life better fit my budget. I have also tried off-brand products and were not satisfied with them. You can still get the quality PL products for the off-brand price!

Collect PL items throughout the year. I buy the items I need for the next year's album a little at a time throughout the year. Though few and far between, you will see Project Life products go on sale. For example, I keep an eye on the Michaels circular every week to see if they mark PL down. Last week, Michaels had all PL products 50% off.

I scored my album and core kit for next year for $30. These beauties are now hiding in the basement with the Christmas stuff to be wrapped and put under the tree. It's my Christmas present to myself every year. 

The morale of the story? Keep your eyes open for sales on PL all year long. Jump on a good deal and stick it away for the next year or use it now. Patience!

Follow Becky Higgins on Instagram or her blog. How do you know when these items are on sale? When I first started Project Life a year and a half ago, you could only buy PL products through Amazon. Now, you can find PL products at most major craft stores. Lucky for us, right?!

If PL goes on sale on Amazon or on the Becky Higgins website, you'll be the first to know via her blog or Instagram. (You can find her blog here. Her Instagram is here.) She's really good about hyping sales and giving the occasional heads up on future mark downs.

Besides getting a leg up on sales, there are free printables that coordinate with the core kits and of course, some great inspiration for your album. 

Put those Hobby Lobby/Michaels coupons to use.

The best part of PL coming to major craft stores? You can use those generic 40% off any regular priced items to add to your collection. I use these coupons to get the coordinating dividers or speciality card packs like my December Daily album for example.

Utilize freebies by other PL enthusiasts. A quick search on Pinterest will give you a slew of Project Life free printables made by fellow scrappers. I like to use these in my pages to mark a special day like a birthday or a day trip. If you'd like a short cut to some good freebies or need a place to start browsing, be sure to check out my Project Life board here.

Bonus Tip. As I said before, you've got to buy prints of your pictures to fill your album! Buying prints can get pricey too especially over the course of a year. I've tried every printer from Walmart to Snapfish in my years of scrapbooking. Who I personally recommend and use? GrooveBook!

For $2.99 a month, I get 100 4x6 pictures in a book. The pictures are perforated so you can easily pull out the pictures you'd like to go in your scrapbook.

You have to download their free app, follow the sign up instructions and upload your pictures. I take almost ALL of my PL pictures with my iPhone so this works wonderfully for me.

Would you like to try it out for free? Use the coupon code WINSLETT5 to get your first Groovebook FREE.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated by neither Project Life nor GrooveBook for any part of this post. I just love these products - plain and simple. All opinions in this post are strictly my own. I hope they help you in your Project Life endeavors!

What are some ways you cut your PL costs?

Happy scrapping!

June 11, 2014

Ahoy! It's a Boy! Customer Love

There's nothing I love to see more than pictures from my customers showing how they used their custom invitation at their event.  

I have the privilege of knowing this customer personally. Her son is one of my former students! Her brother and sister-in-law are expecting their first child and they wanted a nautical theme for the shower. Seeing as I'm kind of obsessed right now with the whole nautical thing, my "Ahoy! It's a Boy!" invitation already listed in my shop was almost perfect. 

We brainstormed together to customize the invitation to fit the navy and lime green color scheme. We also ditched the sailboat for an anchor. I thought it came out wonderfully!

At the shower, she showcased the invitation on the cake table with a lime green chevron matte and frame. Seriously though, look at that cake! Is that not awesome?

Welcome aboard, Baby Aiden!


June 9, 2014

Father's Day Flash Sale /// Cards + Cards + More Cards!

5x7 Favorite Parent Card /// $3 shipped

Happy Monday!

Father's Day is just around the corner. Can you believe it? Typically, I only sell cards at craft shows. However, after several requests from customers who are out of reasonable driving range, I've decided to take a stab at hosting a flash sale! This will give those of you who couldn't make it to Market Day last Saturday or those who live a few states over to grab your own Father's Day card from PaperLark Studio.

I'm offering 4x6s for $2 or 5x7s for $3. Shipping is included. How much easier can it get?

Simply leave your PayPal email address in the comments below along with which card(s) you'd like and I'll send it out ASAP! If you'd rather not leave your PayPal email in the comments, just shoot me a quick email at paperlarkstudio@gmail.com!

Easy as pie! What dad doesn't love pie?!

5x7 Rare Find Card /// $3 shipped
4x6 Rare Find Card /// $2 shipped

4x6 Favorite Parent Card /// $2 shipped

4x6 Sharpest Tool Card /// $2 shipped

5x7 Sharpest Tool Card /// $3

*Sale runs while supplies last!*

Happy shopping!

June 3, 2014

Setting Goals for Your Creative Business + Giveaway Winner

Can I just say that Jiminy Cricket is a smart little guy? (C'mon ya'll know I just had to throw a Disney reference in here somewhere!) Although I probably wished on more than one star, my dream of working at PaperLark Studio full-time has become reality. What a wonderful new (and kind of scary) adventure, right?

Personalized When You Wish Upon A Star Art Print - Baby Delicious
Stepping forward, I know that I've got to make some solid goals in order to be successful. In the last two years of building my creative business part-time, I've learned a few key factors in setting goals for a creative business.

Find your focus. When I get excited about something, I tend to over do it. I'm usually a big believer in doing all or nothing. However, I quickly learned that when it comes to owning a creative business trying to be the Walmart version of an entrepreneur will not get you very far. You have to hone in and focus your talents, energy and time into one creative pursuit. For me, that pursuit is creating custom stationary goods which brings me to my next point.

Be creative on the side. Even before the concept of PaperLark Studio came into fruition, I was a craft and DIY fanatic. As a creative entrepreneur, I think it's critical to keep that spark alive by focusing some of your creative talents outside of your creative business. For example, on the weekends, I'm satisfying my crafting quench with sewing projects and scrapbooking - nothing related to creating or designing invitations. By keeping the two separate, I don't get burned out and it keeps the creative juices flowing so to speak. 

Be you - all the time! Ultimately, you are your brand. This also tails off of finding your focus. You can't be everything to everyone. You've got to find your niche. At the end of the day, there's nobody better than being yourself cause there's no one else like you! The good Lord above created your niche for you. 

Create your goals around how you want to feel. Is it cheesy? Maybe. However, every book I've ever read about pursuing your own business advises you to consider this. Quite frankly, I think it's the best guide to helping you form the basis to construct your goals. About a year ago, I read How to Grow Your Handmade Business by Kari Chapin, who stresses the importance of creating a business plan and setting strong goals for your business, and wrote down three words describing how I wanted my business to make me feel. I wrote: free, self-sufficient and successful. It was around those three words that I built my business plan and goals. 

Dont' forget about the other components of owning a business. I think most creative entrepreneurs would agree - we'd love to make things all day long and not have to worry about yucky things like accounting or taxes. However, it must be done! If you neglect them, you won't be able to grow your business which is the ultimate goal, right? 

In order to not forget about these other key components, I divide them into categories and strive to make at least one goal for each. 

I've listed my categories and subsequent goals for each below. Of course, your categories and goals will differ depending on the type of creative business and where you are in your pursuit. 

  • Accounting and Financing
    • Goal. Learn and thoroughly understand how to file quarterly taxes.
  • Creative Direction / Products
    • Goal. Explore getting into some local boutique shops.
    • Goal. Create party packages for all birthday invitations.
    • Goal. Participate in at least one other craft show this year in addition to Market Day.
  • Marketing and Branding
    • Goal. Expand outreach on Facebook by posting at least 3 times a week.
    • Goal. Create some quality content for the shop's blog.
  • Studio / Production
    • Goal. Keeping the office clean and organized!
    • Goal. Purchase better printer and keep printing in-house.

It's time to put your helmet on and enjoy the ride. Bring on the adventure!

Let's Be Adventurous Art Print - Elm Street Studio 
What are some goals you have for your creative business? 


P.S. Congratulations to Danielle Marie for winning the six pack of handmade cards from Studio 266.

Disclosure: This post does contain an affiliate link. I will receive compensation if a purchase is made. 

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