4/24/15

Etsy Shop Tips: Opening an Etsy Shop (what you REALLY need to know)


Before I opened my first Etsy shop, December Caravan, in 2013 I read every single book and website article I could get my hands on to help make my store, an "Etsy success". The reading helped a ton, but I have also been learning a lot of things along the way! In this last year alone I have changed a lot of things with my shop and have continued to learn and grow as an Etsy shop owner and have learned a lot more as I just opened my second Etsy shop last week (September Caravan). 

So when I announced the opening of my second shop last week I received a lot of emails asking me for some Etsy advice in general. I am NOT an expert but I hope this series "Etsy shop Tips" will help other creatives who desire to run an Etsy shop! So today I wanted to share some tips on opening an Etsy shop and what you REALLY need to know! Here are some thoughts (in no particular order):

(1) Take Time to Decide Your Shop Name. There are a LOT of different theories about how to choose a shop name but at the end of the day this is your shop. It is going to be with you for a while (hopefully!) and you will want it to be something that you can "grow" with. While Etsy does allow you to appeal to change your shop name at a later date you will have to let people know about this change and potentially need to change your social media handles if you have matched them to your shop, not to mention any business cards or marketing that you have done elsewhere. Take your time to choose your name! Some people think that you need to have a name that "fits" your products, while others believe that is not necessary. My best advice is to do what feels right for you. (You can read the story behind the name for my shop, December Caravan HERE!)

(2) Do your Research Ahead of Time. Whether you are interested in starting to create an item to sell or you have been selling to friends and family for a long time and now want to take the "plunge" into opening a shop, take time to do research. The fortunate thing is that it is very easy to open a shop on Etsy and list things. The unfortunate thing is that it doesn't mean it will sell. Take time to do research so that you will be successful. Think through whether or not there is a demand for your product, whether or not you will be introducing something "new" to the world, etc. If you aren't sure about some of these things, take time to develop your business strategy. 

(3) Study the "Quick Start Essential List". Etsy how has a "quick start essential list" that they didn't have when I first started my Etsy shop. This can be a wonderful and helpful tool at the beginning of your journey! (You can find it by clicking HERE!)

(4) Take Quality Pictures that Represent Your Products.  Taking quality photos that represent your handmade products takes a LOT of time! As a photographer, this is a wonderful part of the handmade process for me, but for some creatives this can be frustrating and annoying. You must convey in your pictures (which is going to be the thing that "draws" people in) how wonderful your handmade item is. You have to convey the "feel" of it, the details, the "tone", etc. You are competing with brick and mortar stores where people can touch and look through the things they are interested in. You want your photography to represent your items well. Listen, it is better to have 5 items for sale with excellent photography than 100 items with poor photography. (Side note: Make sure that your pictures represent your products. When I first started on Etsy I thought that I should do all of my products with a "white light background". I did this at first and the realized that my shop is for those who love and live with their handmade items. I started taking pictures outside, in different areas, etc. This has worked SO well for me. Find what works for you and own it!)

(5) Brand your shop. Take the time to figure out branding for your shop. Honestly I went through three different business cards before my current branding which I love. Take the time to really develop your look and style so that you have a cohesive brand. 

(6) If you want to be successful, understand that running an Etsy shop is hard work. When I first opened my shop I thought that it would be easier than it is. Honestly, it has been one of the hardest business ventures that I have ever done. I love my job though and at this stage and season in my life, this allows me to work from home while I am fighting for my health. BUT that doesn't mean that it isn't an incredible amount of hard work! EVERY single day (even if it is just from my bed on rough treatment days) I work at least 6 hours on orders, on new products, on marketing, on instagram sales, etc. It takes a TON of work but I absolutely love it. Understand that it takes a TON of work if you are wanting to be successful in this venue. 

(7) Set specific goals. When I first started my shop I didn't do this as well as I needed to. I was so excited to have opened my shop that I just spent time creating and posting and trying to market. I have now learned how important it is to set goals for your shop. Take the time to set yearly goals, quarterly goals, and monthly goals. BELIEVE me you will be so thankful that you did!

(8) Take time to list and describe your products well.  It can be exciting to open a shop and just want to "dive" on in. Take the time (just like with the photography) to write out interesting, captivating, and detailed descriptions of your product! This will definitely help you as you continue!

I hope these tips are helpful! Have you started an Etsy shop? I would love to connect with you! Leave a link to your shop in the comment section so that we can connect! 

Happy Friday friends!

Springing Ahead Giveaway

We Are Celebrating The Warmer Weather By Springing Ahead!

Now is the time when friends and families get together to and spend great times making memories outdoors. We Three Moms (Anderson's Angels, Joy of Mama Joyner and The More The Merrier), are so very excited to get outside with family and friends to enjoy the sunshine! We've teamed up with over 80 other wonderful bloggers, to bring you another huge giveaway event! ONE WINNER will take home all of the prizes we've put together (over $650 in prizes!) for The Springing Ahead Giveaway!
There is something for everyone in the family in this fun Prize Package:
SpringingAheadCollage
Aden & Anais - teether - $24.95
Bees Wraps - Assorted Set of 3 - $18.00
Exergen - Temporal thermometer - $59.99
Zipit Bedding - Twin set - $49.99 Sterling Publishing - Superfood Snacks - $16.95
H2wOw - 1- 4 pack - $24.99
Jackpot Candles - Candle - $24.95
Planetbox - Rover Complete Set - $59.99
Cave Tools - Meat Claws - $15.99
Nickerbacher - Book - $13.64
ChicoBag - ChicoBag - $50
EarthEasy - Worm Factory 360 Composter - $109.95 Crane - Belly Glo Night Light - $12.99 OOFOS - 1 pair - $39.95 Halo - Sleepsack or Swaddle - $26.95 GeospacePlay- GeoFlux & Game Time Sports - $29.98 TriDerma - TriDerma Set - $70.95

It's exciting isn't it? Come enter to win! The more entries you complete on the Giveaway Tools form below, the better your chances of winning are! Best Of Luck! The Springing Ahead Event will run from 12:01am EST Wednesday, April 22, 2015 through 11:59pm EST Wednesday, May 6, 2015. This giveaway event is open to all legal residents of the United States who are 18-years-old and older.

Disclosure: Anderson’s Angels, Joy Of Momma Joyner, The More The Merrier, and all other participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. The sponsors will send the prizes directly to the winner. We are also not responsible for any unfortunate accidents that result from the use of any of these products.

4/22/15

sponsor a mile (from Emily, Rebecca's sister)

Happy Wednesday friends! Today I am honored to share a few words from my sister about a run that she is doing for me in order to help raise funds for my upcoming medical trip out to California! Without delay here is what my sister has shared:

(from Emily, Rebecca's sister):

"As many of you know my sister is going back out to CA in June, and this time my mom is traveling with her due to the intensity of the treatment. As a way of helping ease some of the financial burdern I am running a 10k on May 2nd here in Nashville. I would be honored if anyone would join with me and sponser a mile. It is a little over 6 miles, and any donation would be a blessing! Rebecca's go fund me page and the breakdown of costs are in the link above. Thank you again for all your support! "

If you are interested in giving a donation you can simply click HERE to go to my "go fund me" page. As my sister has shared any donation would be a blessing! Thank you so much for all of your support sweet friends!

Blessings, 


4/21/15

The Power of "Life-Affirming" and "Redeeming" Words

As I shared last week in my post, "Notes from the Porch: Wasted Time", these past couple of weeks have been some of the most difficult in my health journey emotionally. I shared several things and reasons why this has been the case but in addition to everything I shared there are some private, behind the scenes and personal things that have been going on. I have found myself having tears throughout the day on more than one occasion because I have just felt so discouraged. I have often just felt like shutting everything out and curling up with a soft blanket and crying my eyes out. 
Ian Maclaren who was a Scottish author and minister is widely believed to have said, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." This quote has come to my mind in a thousand different situations that I have been encountering and I have noticed with startling accuracy the impact of this quote. Words have incredible power - to either destroy or to give life. This past week after I announced that I would be starting a "go fund me page" for my upcoming medical treatment to California I received many emails from people who were incredibly critical and harsh. In addition to this I have had to deal with criticism and skepticism as I have been going through my necessary doctors appointments here in the south, where Lyme Disease is not believed to be a real thing. Third, this season of the fight for my health is extremely intense and difficult and finally, as I mentioned there have been some behind the scenes, difficult personal battles that I have been dealing with. But it really doesn't matter what is all going on, because as Ian Maclaren said, everyone is fighting a hard battle.
In the midst of all of this I received an unexpected gift and surprise from a sweet lady who I have interacted with only a handful of times. Betsy, from "Heavens to Betsy" blew me away not as much with her generosity financially during this difficult time, but her kindness through her words. She spoke God's precious love and hope to my little heart through her words.  And Betsy's actions and words have gotten me thinking about my own words and the impact that my words have. 

Betsy's email was full of love and kindness and her words were "life-affirming" and had "redeeming" qualities. She spoke of hope and physically lived it out with her words. It was amazing how much of an impact her words have had and how many times I have re-read them in the last several days. Without knowing anything that was going on (except for my last post) she stepped into my brokenness and with her words she changed things around. 
Y'all the power of "life-affirming" and "redeeming" words has the opportunity to shift an entire situation and an entire life. We may not know or understand the depth to which someone is dealing with a situation and we may never know all of the story behind something that someone is going through, but we have the power to change the story with our words.

There are so many people in my life who live this well and I want to model their examples. Last week when I was speaking with Carina her sweet words and her love were so encouraging. The time that she took to pray for me over the phone was a gift that had me in tears. My beautiful friends Michelle and Jen are always quick to be sending love and kindness through their words and text messages. Katie's love and words of encouragement are such a gift and Kaara's beautiful encouragement through her cards always seem to come "at just the right time".  Caroline always leaves the sweetest encouraging comments on posts that brings a smile to my face and Zoey's messages are a beautiful gift from the Lord. And where to begin with Katharine's beautiful understanding about not being able to attend her wedding is beyond me. 
I have been so challenged in this to examine my own words every time I speak recently. I have realized that a lot of the times I am not even realizing when my words could be potentially hurtful. Maybe instead of rejoicing with someone who is rejoicing I am more quick to be like, "that is so nice" instead of truly rejoicing with them. Sometimes I have found myself being unintentional critical without really meaning to be. I have been thinking through things that I say in greater degrees and trying to examine each thing I say and write to make sure that they are redeeming words that I am living. And I have realized that my own potential to speak life-affirming and redeeming words is something that I want to do. Every single day. 
I choose to believe that there are people out there that are just trying their best. That each person is genuinely just trying to be the best that they can and we have the opportunity to speak words of life to them. I choose to believe that each of us can change things with our words and that with our positive words we can truly make a difference. When we see with love we see the heart. We can see that people are human with flaws and brokenness but we can still see in love that people are trying their best. In that, we can rest in the positive and understand the impact that we can have on others. People all around us are broken and hurting and need the love of Christ spoken through our words. Let us spread the power of life-affirming and redeeming words today friends!

4/20/15

sponsoring caravan sonnet

Happy Monday sweet friends! I hope that you had a wonderful weekend! 

Last week I shared my upcoming medical trip out to California when I will start to receive new treatment and how the cost of this trip is very expensive at this point in time. Because of this I have been looking for extra ways that I can bring in some income (from my home) due to my health. My shops, December Caravan and September Caravan, plus any sales of my books go directly towards paying for my current medical treatment and bills & this upcoming trip and I have also decided to renew offering sponsorships on my blog. I believe that this humble little space belongs to the Lord and I want to bless him through this space and I also believe this might be a way to help bring in some extra funds for my medical trip

I am so incredibly humbled that you might consider sponsoring my blog and helping me out during this difficult financial time. My heart behind my blog has always been to develop a rich community that encourages each other’s passions and callings and I would love to collaborate with you and would be honored to feature your blog, business, or etsy shop (etc.)! 


The ads are $10 for one month, or $25 for 3 months! Thank you so much for considering this and lets get started! Email me at caravansonnet@gmail.com for more information!!

Happy Monday friends!

With Love, 

4/17/15

September Caravan Photography

A couple of years ago when my health first started to decline, I started to pay attention to my surroundings in new ways. I had always loved taking pictures, but as I became more "stationary" and a bit more isolated due to my health, I started dabbling with landscape photography in new ways. 
My goal was to learn how to capture the images of life in a poignant way, and to showcase the beauty amidst the ashes that it seemed my life had become due to illness. I found by capturing this beauty that God had made that I was drawn closer to the Lord and encouraged by the gorgeous artist that God is. Mostly, I took pictures for my family and friends and for this blog and was personally encouraged as I was reminded that with each picture if God cared so much for the landscape around me, He truly cared for me. 
But as time as continued, God, in His unique way, started to show that He had different plans for my camera and these pictures. About a year ago several friends started inquiring if I would be willing to sell my photographs so that they could frame them for their homes and offices. I was incredibly honored and a little intimated but through this I started to learn about printing and framing which was an area that I had never explored and started to learn more about my camera, take free-online photography classes, and chat with amazing landscape photographers from around the world who were willing to share some ideas. I also became passionate about providing beautiful photography for doctors offices and hospitals so that patients, like myself, who spend a lot of time in these places would see beauty even indoors. 
I truly was humbled when I received emails from people that I didn't know and had not met who were interested in my photography.  And through amazing and different circumstances the Lord continued to open up doors. A sweet business opportunity came along and the contact for this opportunity said to me, "When I look at this picture I am reminded that God cares for the smallest things, even me." I cried and agreed as that is what I hope my photography shows. 
It is funny when the Lord starts to open up a new door isn't it? Yes, you get excited about a new adventure, but there is a quiet and understated peace and resolve that you are moving in the right direction. I love that although I was never looking to "be a photographer" the Lord, in His sweet mercy opened up another creative outlet for me, which also helps provide extra income for my medical bills and medical treatment
So after months and months of learning, praying, and consulting with many wonderful photographers, I am so excited to share the launch of my new business, September Caravan. At this point (due to my health) and to simplify things, I am selling my photos through my new Etsy shop, September Caravan and keeping my "portfolio" here on the blog! I would be honored if you would "like" my new shop on Etsy! (You can do that by clicking HERE!)

I chose the name because I wanted something to "match" my other shop, December Caravan, and something that would grow as I develop and grow as a photographer. I also wanted to have something that had personal meaning to me, which I can't wait to share more about in a future post!

The slogan for my shop, "landscape imagery for the sentimentally inclined" perfectly sums up the photographs that I take and the feeling I want to convey as you look at these photos. As y'all know I have a love affair with the Lake Champlain region, but the shop does feature photos from around the world.
Thank you to y'all, my dear friends and readers who have constantly encouraged me in my photography!!Seriously, there are so many of you have consistently and lovingly encouraged me in this area and I can not thank you enough!

As a token of my appreciated, I wanted to offer a
FREE item in my shop to one lucky person!

Details:
I am offering a FREE item of ANY TYPE {4x6, 5x7, 8x10 - with matte or without matte}to one lucky person! Here is all you need to do to enter:
(1) "Like" September Caravan on Etsy (HERE)
(2) Be a follower of Caravan Sonnet on Bloglovin and Instagram
(3) In the comment section leave a comment with the photo you are hoping to win!
(*if you do not have a bloglovin account or instagram account you can still do the other steps to be entered* Winner will be picked by "random.org")
Winner will be announced on Monday, April 20th!

AND to celebrate the opening of my shop- there is FREE SHIPPING all weekend with the code "grandopening"!!

Thank you so much again for all of your encouragement to me over these past couple of years of blogging and with my photography. Isn't it amazing how much our words can speak life into others? Y'all have definitely done that in my life! Thank you so much y'all!!

With Lots of Love,

4/16/15

Rebecca's Medical Trip 2015

Since being diagnosed with Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease in March 2013 followed by a Cancer diagnosis in May 2013 I have steadily been fighting for my health through a variety of resources. In March 2014 I was blessed to finally find appropriate and wonderful medical care and have started to see my body respond to aggressive integrative treatment. Through the use of strong antibiotics, alternative medicine, and a variety of treatments I have started to reclaim (slowly) step by step my health. Due to the strength of oral antibiotics being too strong for my digestive system at this stage I will begin a course of IM shots out in California during the second week of June. Due to the serious nature of this treatment my mom and I will be flying out and staying a week so that I can be properly watched under medical care to ensure that I do not develop any anaphylactic reactions or serious complications. The cost of this trip is quite expensive and we are praying that all of the funds that are needed will be provided for. We have started this specific "go fund me" page to prayerfully and hopefully offset some of the funds that are needed for this trip and for the cost of the shots. Thank you so much for all of your love and support throughout this entire journey. 

Breakdown Cost of California Trip
Doctors Appointment- $500
Cost of Shots for Entire Course (10 shots)- $800
2 Round Trip Airline Tickets- (approximately) $1500
Hotel Stay (5 nights)- (approximately) - $700
Rental Car- $250
Food- (approximately)- $300

Total Cost- $4050