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March 20, 2013

Better Blogger Series: Make a List

So this happened the other night at 3 a.m. (yes. 3. freakin. a. m.). I attended Amy Flurry's PR workshop and bought her book, "Recipe for Press" earlier that night, and clearly I was inspired. But my brain's timing could've been a little bit better. Sheesh. If I've learned anything, though, it's that when the ideas come to you, you better get a pen and sheet of paper fast -- before the ideas drift away into nothingness! 

At Blogshop in November, Bri gave us a great piece of advice -- sit down and write down your goals and dreams for the coming year for your blog or small business. Even if they're straight up crazy, write them down anyway. Sometimes just putting them down on paper makes them seem a little more attainable...and permanent. They're there, in black and white. You might as well see what you can do about making them happen

I am bad about having a million ideas floating around in my head and never writing any of them down. I'm also bad about simple business things -- like, you know, buying real business cards. (Have I seriously been printing my own on card stock since 2008? Yes. I admit it. I totally have.) Time to start putting some of the simple things into action, and then focusing on the big things afterwards. 

Need:
  1. Business cards. For those of you who blog or have a small business or blog (or both), overnightprints.com is the place to buy affordable business cards online. Moo also rocks, but they are a little more expensive. I liked that Overnight Prints offers templates, too. Easy peasy. We can cross that one off the list.
  2. New stationery. So many customers ask me if I sell different kinds of paper for various projects. Right now, I use one kind of paper and one kind only. What can I say, I get into the groove of things and change isn't always high on my list. I've already started looking online for new paper, and I'm already overwhelmed. There's so much out there, and I want high quality for a low price, which might be tough to find. It's a daunting task, but I want to be able to offer more to my clients moving forward. This one is going to be a work in progress. (And, if any of you have any suggestions for where to buy wedding paper, stationery paper, etc., online, please holler at me!)
  3. Asking for a discount. I use a major retailer for the stationery I buy for the shop, and let's be honest, I've been a big buyer for three years now. Asking can't hurt. We'll see how that goes.
  4. Research the competition. This is something that Amy Flurry touched on at her workshop, and it's something I've been secretly doing for awhile anyway. Who doesn't know who their competition is? I wish that I could know these people in real life and pick their brains about their day-to-day operations and how they grew from small to big businesses. Hmm. Maybe I will reach out to some of them and ask. Again, asking can't hurt, right?
  5. Keep selling wholesale. Concerning my small business, my plan right now is to start off selling my products regionally, then state-wide, then hopefully, one day when my ducks are in order, reach out to stores nationally. This isn't happening overnight, and it's a crazy dream, but I really want to take the baby steps necessary to make it happen. 
New Product Ideas for the Shop:

These brainstorm sessions are just plain fun. I always have an Excel sheet open that includes current orders, my price list for various products, blog post ideas, and new product ideas. The top ideas on my list right now are flamingo love birds (these love birds have been a popular item in the shop for awhile now), foxy foxes, and something with peaches (because I am, after all, a Georgia peach myself). 

Other products I want to develop are recipe cards (I have to find the right paper), wrapping paper and iPhone cases. Recipe cards and iPhone cases won't be too hard to develop and produce, at least on a small scale. Wrapping paper, however, has been tricky to research. I've even reached out to the competition to ask where on earth did they find a retailer that wasn't crazy expensive?! So far, the answers I've received haven't been too helpful. But I'm determined to figure this one out, because I love wrapping presents in fun, unique paper. I think wrapping a package in a patterned paper of these guys would just be great, don't you?

Wish List:

And finally, here is my current wish list for the blog and the shop. Right now, my list isn't too crazy dream-wise, but it is a bit are-you-insane!? cost-wise. 
  1. A new, fancy website. I have been a big fan of Aeolidia web design for quite some time. They specialize in websites for crafty businesses, and they've worked with, ahem, several shops that I'd like to call my competition. I would love to have a product site that includes a space for my blog and Etsy shop all in one space. Unfortunately a website overhaul would cost upwards of $5,000 to $12,000 -- so yeah, a new, fancy website isn't happening any time soon. But it is on my list. And therefore, maybe one day it will happen.
  2. Work with a pro on new product photos. This one just hurts my head. A lot. The idea of taking all new product photos makes me want to curl up in the corner in a fetal position. To style or not to style? To use a light box and white background, or not to? Another Amy Flurry gem: companies and magazines that want to feature you will likely not feature you if your product photos aren't that great. Products that were shot using a light box and white background are usually favorites -- all of the work is already done for a magazine editor, blogger or company that wants to feature your product in a round-up or story (and I know this is true -- as a blogger, I rarely ever use a product in a round up unless it's a great picture with a white background). Right now I don't think hiring a photographer is in my budget, either, but I imagine one day if I'm lucky enough to have a new website, new product photos will need to come with it. 
  3. A consultation with Amy Flurry. I already admired Amy Flurry before attending her work shop, but now I'm an even bigger fan. She is an expert in her field, and she knows how to get press -- quickly and easily -- for all businesses, big and small. I know a consultation with her would be helpful, but right now, unfortunately she isn't in my budget, either! There are so many creative people that I would love to work with in the future, so I just gotta keep on doing what I'm doing and hope the opportunities present themselves to me later on. After all, if you will it, it is no dream, right?
So, moral of this blog post: if you wake up at 3 a.m. with your mind racing about your hopes and dreams, obligue and make a list -- it'll help put things in action for you when you wake up in the morning (even if you are dog tired.) I truly believe that if you jot down all of your ideas -- big and small -- it will lead to something positive. So, maybe I'll figure out some of these in the coming two years and make them happen. Fingers crossed! 


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