Red and White Baker’s Twine – I picked this one up at Ikea
Glue, I use Ranger’s Glossy Accents. It provides a strong bond and dries clear.
This design couldn’t be more simple!
Cut two pieces of double sided foam tape to the back of the Heart Collectable. Repeat that on the back of the Small Tag Collectable. I used the ‘These Days are decorated with love and joy’ tag.
Tie three small bows using the Baker’s Twine.
Leaving space for the Heart Collectable, position the two Chirstmas Bauble Collectables where they look best to you, and adhere them to the card base.
Remove the tape from the back of the foam tape on the Heart Collectable and adhere it to the card base.
Cut three pieces of Baker’s Twine long enough to ‘hang’ the Collectables from the top of the card base, plus a little overhang.
Using a (very) small amount of glue, adhere the Baker’s Twine in place, with the extra length hanging over the top edge of the card base. Small dots of glue along the length of the twine is better than a long line of glue.
Wait for the glue to dry. Trust me, I hate waiting as much as you do, but don’t be tempted to trim it now. The darn thing will move and stick itself in the wrong place.
When the glue is dried, trim the Baker’s Twine to the top of the card base. I congratulate you on your patience 🙂
Adhere the three bows you tied earlier in place.
Remove the tape from the back of the foam tape on the Small Tag Collectable and adhere it to the card base where you think it looks best.
Sit back and admire completed card number 6! Well done you.
Click here to go back to card 5. Card 7 coming soon.
Tie a medium sized bow from the black satin ribbon.
Cut a three inch circle from the Gold Splatter on Black print. There should be enough left from the page used in the first three cards to do so.
Cut a three inch strip from the Gold Foil Stripe Print and cut it down to fit across the full length of the card base.
Cut a two and a quarter inch strip from the White Spot on Grey Print and cut it down to fit across the full length of the card base.
Cut a one and three quarter inch strip from the White on Gold Spot Print and cut it down to one inch shorter than the full length of the card base.
Cut a banner end into this strip by folding it lightly in half, print side out, and cutting diagonally from the outer corner into the centre.
Adhere the Gold Foil Stripe Print strip vertically and in the centre of the card base.
Layer the White Spot on Grey strip over this one, taking care that it is centred on top of the Gold Foil Stripe piece, and glue it in place.
Centre the White Spot on Gold banner cut piece on top of this, and glue it in place.
Adhere the Gold Splatter on Black circle on the top of all these pieces, leaving enough room at the bottom of the card for both the ribbon bow and the end of the banner strip.
Centre the Large Merry Christmas Wreath Collectable on top of the Gold Splatter circle and glue it in place.
Adhere the black bow in place under the Merry Christmas Wreath. I use Ranger’s Glossy Accents for these sorts of jobs because it sets clear and creates a strong bond.
I struggled, again, to photograph the foil papers, hopefully you at least can see a hint of the gold foil print background behind the ‘Merry Christmas’ circle. I’ll keep trying and if all else fails I will just as to stop using foiled papers!
Sit back and admire completed card number 5! Well done you.
Cut a four inch strip from the Grey and White Present Print in the First Noel 6×6 inch Paper Pad.
Trim the Gold Foil strip, with the circle negative in it from Card 1, so if fits the card base.
Cut out the ‘Better than Socks’ sentiment, using either a die or a paper trimmer. I’ve cut mine to about three and a half by 1 and half inches.
Fussy cut the presents from the Foiled Present Print in the First Noel 6×6 inch Paper Pad. You could use the presents from the Collectable set, but I found these to be too big for this design.
Adhere the Grey and White Present Print strip to the centre of the black card base.
Glue the Gold Foil strip over the Grey and White Present Print strip. Take care not to smear the glue inside the circle, it leaves a mark – ugh.
Position the Christmas Stocking String Collectable inside the Gold Foil circle. I like it diagonally as shown, #2 Son liked it straight across the centre top. Put it where YOU like it.
Adhere the ‘Better than Socks’ sentiment strip across the bottom of the circle, aligned with the right-hand side of the Gold Foil strip.
Position the fussy cut presents along the left-hand side of the sentiment strip – you can imagine how much discussion there was about where to put those! Please feel free to use your own judgement.
This card must be the most photographed thing I have ever made – oh boy does that gold foil paper mess with the camera! I think there were about 756 goes at getting a passable image – my photography skills are a work in progress!
Sit back and admire completed card number 4! Well done you.
Cut a half inch strip from the Gold Splatter on Black paper – it should be on the off cut from the circle cut for Card 1. Cut this to fit the width of the base card.
Cut out the ‘Merry Christmas’ sentiment, using either a die or a paper trimmer. I’ve cut mine to about three quarters of an inch.
Using the dies and die cutting machine cut a circle the same size as that used in Card 1 – about three inches.
Cut a three inch strip from the Christmas Tree Print paper and cut it down to fit the front of the base card.
From the scraps available from cards 1 and 2, cut as many banner strips as needed to span the width of the card base. To cut the flag ends, fold the strip in half, with the print on the outer side, and cut diagonally from the outside corners to the folded mid point.
Glue the Christmas Tree Print strip to the centre of the front of the card base.
Position the Gold Splatter on Black paper strip across the card about a third of the way up from the bottom. Apply glue to the centre of the strip and tack it in place.
Position the Circle Frame, from Card 1, centred over the Christmas Tree Print strip, and also so it sits against the Gold Splatter strip. Adjust the positioning of both so there is sufficient room at the bottom of the card for the banner strips.
Apply a bit more glue if needed and secure both the top section of the strip and the circle frame in place. Leave the bottom edge of the strip loose enough to insert the banner strips underneath later.
Glue the Gold Splatter on Black circle in place inside the Circle Frame. There is no need to trim the bottom of the circle as it will sit under the Merry Christmas sentiment.
Insert the banner strips under the lower edge of the Gold Splatter on Black strip and glue in place.
Glue the Christmas Tree Collectable in place in the centre of the circle. I’ve placed it with the star over the top of the circle and the stem over the sentiment strip, but it could go completely inside the circle with a little trim. Put it where YOU like it.
Sit back and admire completed card number 3! Well done you.
Click here to go back to card 2 and here to go to Card 1.
Welcome back! If you missed Card 1 in this series you can find it here.
For the basic supplies used to make the cards in the series, and to see the instructions for card 1, please refer to post one here.
Kaisercraft Square Card in Black
Large Angel & ‘Joyful’ Collectables from Kaisercraft First Noel Collectables
Black & White Scallop Border piece from the back of the paper pad.
Gold Star on White and Gold Foil paper from the First Noel 6×6 Paper Pad
The circle cut from the base of Card 1
Adhesive tape or glue
Die Cutting Machine – if you don’t have one you can use scissors to cut circles
Cut a half inch strip from both the Gold Foil paper – there should be enough on the off cut from the circle cut for Card 1.
Cut a three inch strip from the Gold Star on White paper, and then cut the small circle from that strip. I do it this way for two reasons – so it will fit easily though the Die Cutting Machine, and to preserve as much paper as possible.
Glue the Angel to the small circle just cut above, so it is positioned behind her wings and head. So pretty!
Glue the Gold Foil strip about an inch and a half from the bottom of the card. I say ‘about’ and I mean it. No craft project ever benefited from being strictly governed by a ruler. Those things are total fun-suckers. Use your eyeballs and put it where looks good. Put the Angel on there loosely if you need a guide to make sure she will fit.
Carefully push out the Black and white Scallop banner from the last page of the First Noel 6×6 Paper Pad. They are punched so there is no need for scissors but the scoring isn’t perfect so take care.
Glue the Scallop Banner just under the Gold Foil strip. I used a glue stick to do these, but tape would work just as well.
Position the flat edge of the white circle piece, cut from the card base used for Card 1, against the Gold Foil strip and just to the left of the right-had edge of the black base card. It really doesn’t matter if it matches the width of her skirt perfectly or not. That was a fluke I promise. You can always trim it a bit if need be.
Position the skirt of the Angel against the circle edge and glue in place.
Add the ‘Joyful’ Collectable to the top left-hand side and glue in place. There was much discussion form the peanut gallery here (AKA my boys) about where this looked best. #1 Son prefers it just above the Gold Foil Strip near the bottom of her skirt and #2 Son prefers it where it is at the top. You put it where YOU like it 🙂
Sit back and admire completed card number 2! Well done you.
Every year I search Pinterest for inspiration for my annual Christmas card making expedition and every year I am frustrated. so many of the delicious pins I find are of supplies not readily available in Australia….or at least not affordably available once you account for the dismal exchange rate and postage. Often the postage is more than the item itself! This is not at all helpful at a time of year where budgets are already stretched.
This year I am determined to use products manufactured in Australia, or in a pinch are readily available from local sources. Kaisercraft must have heard my cries of frustration and despite it being only September, they released their 2018 Christmas collections. Spotlight further supported my adventure by providing a 30% off sale – brilliant! So with thanks to the Crafting Gods, I am now armed with the Kaisercraft ‘First Noel’ 6×6 inch paper pad, Collectables pack, coordinating Washi Tape and the ‘Village’ cutting dies.
The challenge is to make as many cards as possible from this one set of supplies and share each one here with you with some instructions so you can follow along if you like. If you aren’t into sending Christmas Cards yourself, keep in mind they make excellent teacher gifts. Who wouldn’t love being given a bundle of hand made cards tie up with a bow in early December when school finishes? Way better than soap I recon.
I’m going to use as few supplies as possible so this series of cards can be created with basic supplies and don’t require a huge investment to achieve. Having said that I may get carried away with the creative flow, but I will try hard to stick to the following basic supplies:
Coordinating Ribbon – I have used Semco 9mm Everyday ribbon, $1 per 3m roll from Spotlight
Circle Dies – I really like the Uniquely Creative Cross Stitch Circle Dies
I like the Prima Marketing ‘Planner Glue Pen’ – its good and sticky, and comes in a pen sized tube, so it’s easy to use and goes where you put it. They are available at Paper Flourish, if you are here in Adelaide, or any good scrapbooking store. I also like the precision of the Zig Glue pens. You can get those at Riot stores.
Where I think it adds to the design I have added small amounts of basic black and white cardstock and little bits of glitter card here and there as I am a total magpie and nothing looks finished to me until I add glitter. You can stick to the paper pad designs if you prefer.
About card bases – Kaisercraft have a great range of card bases available in both rectangle and square shapes and various colours. They are reasonably priced, readily available at Spotlight or Kaisercraft stores and are sturdy enough to build on. I have used these for my cards that use a black base.
My absolute favourite card bases are available from Target in packs of 25 for $5 – with envelopes and cards sold in separate packs. They are a metallic card in a heavy weight that cuts and handles glue well. I have used those for most of the cards in this series.
In some cases I have added some bespoke Christmas sentiments, just to be a bit different. You can download these here. Print them onto plain white cardstock and cut out to use them in these designs. Spoiler alert – the download contains multiples of each design, as there is more than enough paper to repeat designs.
Never discard any off cuts from a card. My plan is to use it all in later designs, to get the best value for money. Let’s get started!
Kaisercraft First Noel – Card 1
Supplies for this card:
Target 15cm x 15cm white Metallic Card
Three Wise Men and Evening Star Collectables from Kaisercraft First Noel Collectables
Oh Holy Night label from the back pages of the Kaisercraft First Noel 6×6 Paper Pad
Gold Splat, White on Grey Spot, Gold Star and Gold Foil papers from the First Noel Paper Pad
Adhesive Tape or Glue
Uniquely Creative Inside Outside Cross Stitch Circle Dies – the second largest one.
Die Cutting Machine – if you don’t have one you can use scissors to cut circles
Cut a four inch strip from both the Gold Foil and Gold Splatter on Black paper.
Open the card base flat and position the circle die so it sits just off the right-hand edge, leaving enough room at the top for two strips of washi tape. Run that through the die cutting machine and put the inside portion of the circle aside. We will use that later.
Using the same sized die, cut a circle from both the gold foil paper and the Gold Splatter on Black paper. This will produce a circle frame and a circle with each cut. We will use the Gold Foil circle frame and the Gold Splat on Black circle for this card.
Cut a small circle from the Gold Star on White paper.
Cut the Three Wise Men Collectable apart, so they are able to be positioned separately.
Position and glue the Gold Foil circle inside the cross stitched circle cut into the card base. Avoid putting glue on the edge that will fall off the edge of the card if you can. It tends to make a sticky mess on things 🙂
Position and adhere the circle cut from the Gold Splat paper inside the foil frame, again avoiding gluing the protruding edge.
Glue the Evening Star Collectable to the small die cut circle and position and adhere this so it sits to the top most edge of the Gold Spat circle.
Using the Gold Star washi tape, stick a piece along the lower edge of the card. This is the ‘ground’ for our Wise Men to ‘stand’ on. It needs this so they don’t look like they are levitating, which I thought was a bit creepy for Christmas.To balance that out, select two tapes to run along the top of the card. We left room for these earlier.
Now stick the Wise Men Collectables onto the card front, positioning them so the are ‘standing’ on the Gold Star washi tape ‘ground’.
Cut a small piece of White Spot on Grey paper to fit behind the Oh Holy Night label and adhere these together.
Position and adhere the Oh Holy Night label onto the Gold Splat circle.
Sit back and admire completed card number 1! Well done you.
This design is very versatile. I have re-used this same design using the Sizzix O Little Town stamp and die set, which I bought from Charlotte’s Web last year. Sadly it’s no longer available, but you could use another First Noel Collectable or any other Christmas stamp you have.
I was recently asked to give an inspirational speech, which left me at a loss really, as I don’t consider myself inspirational at all! Despite being far too normal to be inspirational, I have no trouble getting, or even staying, inspired. I have so many ideas that I had to invest time into working out how to organise them.
So why is that important? Does that ability give me any competitive or business advantage? I think it does. Being constantly inspired means I always have work to do, the next thing to try, an answer to THAT problem, or a way to find one, and something that is going to be my next big idea, when this current one has run its course. That can only be an advantage when running a small business.
That means that continued business success relies on really knowing yourself, what inspires you and continually developing and striving to be the best version you that you can be – because that is where the key to business longevity and ultimately profit, lie.
So…how do we do that? We all have the same hours in our day as Beyonce does in hers– right? So how come she keeps knocking out hit songs and we don’t (apart from a total lack of musical ability on my part)? This is what I think is a reliable 5-part strategy for finding, and keeping, your inspiration. Quick disclaimer – I have to admit that none of this is original work of mine, it has all been sourced from my favourite way to get inspired – Podcasts – but I have curated this list and defined a strategy that works for me. The five steps that are crucial to cultivating inspiration are:
Start with why;
Know your through line;
Accept imperfection & be vulnerable;
Choose curiosity over fear;
Learn how to nurture your creative flow.
Let me explain how these work for me.
Start with Why
I went through business school in the 90s and we were all about vision and mission statements, which are great, but those really aren’t fluid enough for today’s business environment. Starting with Why is both more concrete and more flexible at the same time – let me explain. Everyone knows WHAT they do or sell, they know HOW they do it but very few know WHY they do that thing. Discovering WHY injects passion and meaning into your work.
This idea comes from Simon Sinek, who noticed that most people will tell you about their business like this: “Here’s my product, it’s faster, better, prettier than that same one over there, buy my product” – right? Most advertising says what the product does, how it’s different from others like it and then expect a purchasing outcome. What they do and how they do it better, – the usual advertising pitch – while more successful businesses go further and provide customers with their why statement, as well as the what and how. You can watch Simon’s TED Talk here.
A classic example of ‘why based’ marketing is Apple – they advertise like this:
“We believe in thinking differently. We challenge the status quo by making everything beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make computers. What to buy one?”
The why first approach INSPIRES customers to investigate your product, which is much more powerful than motivating interest through simple product differentiation. For my business, the useful side that provides business and IT consulting services, starting with looks like this: “I believe there is an affordable and elegant solution to every business problem.”
Knowing your WHY will give you a filter to make choices, see opportunities and be clear about where you are headed – which leads to the next step….
Know Your Through Line
With your WHY discovered you can then determine the THROUGH LINE or the common thread through WHAT you are doing. This idea came from Jocelyne Glei, who I discovered via The Good Life Project podcast with Jonathan Fields, well over three years ago now. You can listen to that inspirational podcast here and while you are there sign up – it really is a great listen.
Jocelyn makes the point that we all suffer from the tyranny of choice, choice anxiety and decision fatigue. It’s exhausting filtering the constant stream of opportunities, ideas and information that technology brings from OTHER people. So first accept that you can’t do everything, or even most things. Distil your purpose down to 7 or 8 words that capture what you are trying to do. Know what you and your business are committed to RIGHT NOW.
Getting that focus makes decision making almost automatic. It becomes as simple as ‘will this significantly advance that purpose’? It’s a yes or no. The more you are able to say NO, the better competitive advantage you give yourself, as you are able to stay focused on that through line. So, know why you do what you do and define what that means right now, so you can work with focused attention. That leads to HOW you need to work to make the most of that – with vulnerability and imperfection.
Accept Vulnerability and Imperfection
This idea got inside me and changed my way of being. It came to me via a Ted Talk from Brene Brown, who has spent the last 16 years studying courage, vulnerability and shame. Her TED talk is a game changer and totally entertaining so if you haven’t listened yet I urge you to. The take away for me was this….
People who strive, who are driven, often fall into the trap of seeking perfection. ‘I won’t stop until it’s perfect’ blah, blah blah. Falling for all of that is nothing short of self-destructive, simply because there is no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an unattainable goal. Let me say that again, loudly so those in the back can hear me. PERFECTION IS AN UNATTAINABLE GOAL. Additionally, perfectionism is more about perception – we want to be perceived as perfect. By clients, customers, peers, parents, friends, colleagues, partners, for some that list is endless. Again, this is unattainable – there is no way to control perception, regardless of how much time and energy we spend trying. Haters are gonna hate.
Research shows that pursing perfection actually hampers progress and success, and is often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and life paralysis. If you are a perfectionist, I implore you to give it the hell up. So why do we cling to it when it’s so toxic? Simple. Perfectionism is a convenient cover for fear and shame. If someone criticises our work we can simply say, well I know it’s not perfect, it’s a work in progress, I’m SO not done. So back off. If we accept our imperfections, be they of personality or work product, we have to live with the fear of rejection, the possibility of feeling ashamed of our ‘less than perfect’ work and actually publish the book, post the article, deliver the product or whatever else it is that we are hiding from.
Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to the critics (inner or otherwise), gives us the benefits of being more honest with ourselves, more approachable and connected with our peers and communities, more accountable, more courageous and adventurous, and less defensive. Vulnerability is the birth place of innovation, creativity and change. Put simply, we have to be vulnerable to experience the wonder of being continuously inspired. Which leads to the next point…
Choose Curiosity Over Fear
This idea comes from Elizabeth Gilbert, who you probably all know for her novel ‘Eat Pray Love’ she has also written a book called ‘Big Magic’ and I heard her interviewed by Jonathan Fields on The Good Life Project podcast (I’m telling ya, its worth subscribing to!). Her idea is this –
Fear is an awesome tool. It kept our ancestors alive long enough to procreate and got us all here. It does tend to overdo it a bit though, and is a bit of a blunt instrument, in that it perceives all fear-filled activities as CODE RED, life threatening situations. That means it sees writing a poem, doing a painting, writing a blog post for example, as the same degree of threat to our life as a stealthy assassin or a drunk punter in a poorly lit car park.
We need to get fear to cool it a bit, and that is going to get hard if we are also going to be imperfect and vulnerable. Whenever we tackle fear head on it fights back harder. It’s a fighter by nature. Fear reminds us constantly to be safe, so tell it, ‘thanks for the heads up, I’m good, I’ve taken the precautions and I’m just gonna do this thing anyway’. For skydiving – a reasonable place for fear to speak up – that would be checking your parachute and harness.
For creative problem solving, just creating or being curious that fear is over kill and will stop you getting to the best solution or the magic ah-ha moment. Tell fear, as Elizabeth puts it, ‘me and curiosity/creativity are going to do this thing and you can come but there is nothing you need to fight here’. As unlikely as that sounds, that simple conversation gets fear to put the gun down and relax a bit so you can get on with the magic of being vulnerable in your imperfections.
We need to become an alchemist of fear and use it as fuel to create courage muscles. Make and curate a list of classes to take, things to try and investigate. Lose your fear of saying ‘I don’t know’ and believe in your capacity to learn. You can’t stay inspired if you aren’t curious.
So where are we up to –
Start with why;
Know your through line;
Accept imperfection & be vulnerable;
Choose curiosity over fear;
If you can do all of that then you arrive in a place where curiosity and creativity can flourish and you will start to see and feel a cycle of productivity, where some days you are on fire and churning work out and others you are flat and uninspired. That’s when learning to nurture your creative flow comes in. Side note – Creativity has too long been associated only with artistic ventures. It’s more than that and we all have our genius zones where we are comfortable ‘creating’.
I can hear some of you moaning through the Ethernet that you don’t have a creative bone in your body and I strongly disagree. We are the creative species, the creative monkey, by nature we are capable of creativity. But, if the term offends you then I invite you to substitute the term curiosity for creativity and see where it takes you. Back to how to nurture your creative flow….
Nurturing Your Creative Flow
Creative Flow that thing that happens when you are working and look up thinking 20mins has passed and its actually been 2 hours. That means you were totally absorbed and in peak creative flow and working at your productive best. This idea can from Steve Kotler via The Accidental Creative podcast. Steve wrote the book ‘The Rise of Superman’ and researched the psychology and neuroscience of flow.
He calls flow the ‘source code for our creative motivation’ and found it to be a state where it has been proven we are more than 7 times more creative and productive. He studied extreme sport athletes, artists and other top performers and defined the following four stage process as necessary to nurture this state of flow:
Stage One – The Struggle
This is when you’re working hard, when you’re overloading the brain with information until it feels like your head is about to explode. Most people never push past this first stage far enough, which is why they constantly miss the doorway to the flow experience.
Stage Two – Relaxation
This is when you take your mind off the problem entirely, taking a break, going for a walk or doing something physical. This isn’t the same as watching TV or some other distraction that keeps the brain busy. It’s about relaxing the brain so the conscious mind lets the subconscious mind take over. Many people miss this break and as a result are constantly in overload and burnout, missing flow altogether.
Stage Three – Flow
This is the superman experience when inspiration takes over and where your preparation and relaxing express themselves almost magically. You come up with the best ideas, you achieve results almost effortlessly, and you often surprise yourself by your own performance. It’s almost an out-of-body experience whether it’s a mastery of a physical, emotional or mental activity.
Stage Four – Consolidation
The final stage is where learning and memory are amplified dramatically, consolidating the experience of flow into your unconscious. There’s also a downside, where you come off the high of the feel-good neuro-chemicals released during the flow state. You go on a down which often leads to self-sabotage or an emotional reaction to try and regain the flow state. The key here is not to let this stress block the learning or reverse the results of being in flow, but to move smoothly back to the next phase of struggle and repeat the cycle.
Most people aren’t aware of the four stage cycle and so we end up either not getting into flow, or messing things up when they get there. Knowing the cycle exists gives you a map to know where you are, and what to do at each stage.
So there it is – a 5 step plan on how to get and stay inspired. What challenge or task do you have where it would really help to step into your flow to conquer it? How much more productive, efficient and enjoyable would it be to be in a flow state more often? How would being able to trigger a flow state improve the profitability of your business?
You might have noticed that most of these steps came from a few key sources. If you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur and you aren’t investing in YOU, in your own enrichment, learning and personal development then you are limiting your business success.
That doesn’t have to mean enrolling in expensive courses, university or finding a fancy life coach. There is an ocean of brilliant and FREE material available online or in book shops. In my next post I will share with you what I do at each stage of my flow cycle to get the most out of my creative energy. It really just means staying curious and finding some favourite sources of inspiration that feed your flow state. I urge you to get amongst it!
We are big fruit and veg eaters around here and every week we clean out the crisper bin at the bottom of the fridge. Every week what we throw out most is the plastic bags the fruit and veg came home from the supermarket in. The good news is that we don’t have a lot of waste, still some – nothing that a good meal plan wouldn’t fix! That is a project of another post.
The plastic waste has been on my mind. They are not the sort of plastic bags that can be reused and while they can be recycled that’s really not good enough. We needed to make a change to reduce the amount of plastic that was involved in our weekly shop.
We live in South Australia and a few years ago legislation was passed that required retailers to charge customers for plastic shopping bags, so we already shop with reusable shopping bags. I really wanted to tackle the fruit and veg bags.
Google gave me lots of posts about making bags from netting – great idea but too much effort for me right now. I finally found these at my local Spotlight for less that $15. They come in a set of 5, are the same size as those plastic bags and have a draw string to close them securely.
They are great! Checkout was easy as the operator could easily see what was inside and even scanned one of the stickers through the mesh. The other benefit is that when we shop next we have to clean out the crisper before we shop to retrieve the bags, so we know what we have left and what fruit the kids are preferring before shopping again.
The best thing, obviously, is that the amount plastic we throw out every week has dramatically reduced, and that can only be a good thing!
I recently opened a store on Etsy and even more recently made my first sale! Getting to here took some work and a few mistakes along the way, so I thought I would share what I wish I had known before I sat down to start the process of filling in all the boxes on the Etsy site. It was a bit more complicated than I expected, and I had to stop several times to go get things, or even create them, before I could go any further. So before you do the same, get these 10 things at the ready and you’ll be selling before you know it!
Choose a Shop Name – this sounds simple enough but actually takes a bit of thought. First of all for the best conversion of traffic to orders, and other internet Search Engine Optimisation goodness, you need to choose an Etsy Shop name that matches your URL. If you don’t have a URL yet find yourself a domain provider and buy the one you want right now. They aren’t expensive and its worth doing to save yourself a lot of heartache if you can’t get it later.
Your Etsy Shop name needs to reflect your brand and be memorable, all in 20 characters or less. It also can’t include spaces or special characters as it will be used as part of the URL for your shop. Try using some well placed capital letters to make it easier to read.
Keep in mind that if you change your shop name later, you can’t ever have the old one back, and neither can anyone else, so be very careful if you decide to cancel a store before opening it properly like I did, that name is gone forever!
There are lots of excellent resources that Google will unearth for you about choosing an epic Etsy Shop name. Try this one for a start, I found it really helpful.
Create a Shop Title – this is like a by line for your store, it describes in a 55 characters or less what your shop is all about and what you sell. These precious 55 characters are searchable by Google and other tools and so will also help with Search Engine Optimisation if you are into that. I’ve used that SEO term twice now because to some it is really important, if you want to know more read this.
To complete your Shop Title and the store banner in Etsy you will also need a cover image. 760x100px is the best size to make sure your Customers can see your store properly on their phones, which is where more than 60% of Etsy buyers do their shopping! You will also need a shop icon, usually your brand image is best, that is 500x500px. If all of this is mumbo jumbo find a graphic designer who can help. My favourite is Liesl Ross Graphic Designer, you can find her here on Facebook. Tell her I sent you!
A Profile Picture of your very own smiling face. No, you can’t use your cat. Your Customers want to see who they are buying from, and the personal element of Etsy is very important. It is also in the Etsy Shop policies, so no cheating. The image needs to be a .JPG, .GIF or .PNG, at least 400x400px and no larger than 10mb.
A photo of your work space – at least one, or as many as five. There is also a place to load a video if you are really inspired. These photos get loaded to your store’s About page. You will also need a catchy, ‘tell all’ paragraph ot two that tells your Customers three things: 1:Why you are selling, how you got started creating and how you got to being an Etsy shop owner. 2:What you create and sell and 3:How your lovely goodies ‘solve a problem’ for your Customers. By that I mean tell them what your product does for your Customer and why they want it. Check out my carefully crafted About paragraph here for an example.
Shipping Policies – these are the general shipping policies for your store and while Etsy provides default policies for most, you will need to be prepared to enter relevant details for: 1. Shipping – including processing times and Customs/Taxes. I niftily side stepped the processing times question by simply stating ‘The time I need to prepare an order for shipping varies. For details, see individual items’. 2. Payment Options – including PayPal and Credit Card preferences and 3. Returns & Exchanges – if you accept them and how they will work.
Etsy Billing – you will need to decide how you will pay Etsy at the end of each month, and have those bank or Credit Card details at hand. You will also need the details of the bank account your sales revenue is to be deposited into.
Item Details – for each item you are planning to sell you will need: 1. An Item Description giving details of what the Customer will receive, include dimensions, colour options, and any other details needed to make it very clear what is, and isn’t included. 2. Variations are a good way to save on the number, and hence cost, of listings. Consider including size, colour, materials and any other relevant variations within the one listing. Etsy will then provide drop down lists Customers can use to choose their desired variations within each listing. 3. Turnaround times need to be provided for each item. How many working days will it take you to dispatch the order? Make it clear these times start after payment is received, as it can take several days for payments to be processed by Etsy. 4. Pricing for each item needs to consider the cost of raw materials, your time, a profit margin and the price of competitor items on Etsy. Use each of these to arrive at a reasonable price for each item you are listing. 5. Photos cannot be underestimated and you will need at least one, or as many as five, for each item. There are thousands of articles on the internet about how to take good product photos, like this one.
Shipping – take the time to sort out how you are going to mail each item you are planning to list. Find samples of the mailing boxes and packaging you plan to use, actually pack each item, and take them to the post office to be weighed and costed. If you plan to offer both domestic and international shipping get prices for both, including pricing for several different international destinations so you can provide postage for the USA, Europe and Middle East, for example. I even mailed an item to a friend to make sure it would arrive unscathed to make sure my packing was sufficient. It is so easy to lose all your profit on an item in postage if you underestimate shipping, or worse, have to send it twice due to breakage.
Search Terms – Etsy allow you to apply 13 tags to each item to describe it. These tags are the gateway to getting your item discovered. Etsy matches tags with shoppers’ searches to find relevant results and you want your items to be returned in search results as that is what will bring you sales. Use all 13. If you can’t think of 13 ask friends and family to describe your items and include what they come up with. Read more here.
Go Shopping! Spend some time on Etsy as a Customer and shop for the items you are planning to list. Check out what your competitors are selling, how they are photographed, what search terms work best and what tags they have applied. I found it really helpful to read item descriptions for similar products to mine to help with wording. Check what other local sellers are charging for postage for similar items. Be critical, what can you do better? What can you do differently with your listings to stand out?
Above all remember to be authentically you, no one else is selling that.