10 things I learnt in the first 5 months of running my Etsy shop

I've been running my little Etsy for the past 5 months, and although I'm not yet shifting any real volumes or making a profit, it definitely has consumed A LOT of my time. So much so, that I've put it on holiday mode until 10th Jan to give me a bit of rest.

In the past 5 months, I've learnt a lot...I can't wait to see what 2017 brings!

1) People are lovely 
I've had some lovely messages from customers telling me how much they love their items, and it never fails to put a smile on my face!

2) Some people...not so much
I've actually only encountered two nasty people, but they both really threw me! The first didn't read the listing of the thing she bought, and when I offered her a refund if she returned it, hurled abuse at me - some pretty nasty stuff! The second was lovely at checkout, but because her international order didn't arrive within 2 weeks due to postal delays, she start sending me nasty messages full of caps lock shouting. Baaaaah. I've got to admit, both these encounters really put me off, and I considered stopping my Etsy, which is a shame as it brings me so much joy!

3) SEO is SO important and Etsy always change their algorithyms.
I didn't know anything about tags and wasn't getting many views, but as soon as I made some tweaks with wording, my views shot up1

4) As is recognition by bloggers, Reddit, etc
I've had a couple of bloggers link to my rings, and someone linked to one of my necklaces on Reddit. Not only did it make my traffic jump, but it made me really happy that people out there thought my work was worth linking too!

5) and Instagram, You NEED to nail Instagram. And product photography.
There's SO many beautiful things on Instagram, and I've often found a lovely Etsy shop through their posts. I've been tweaking my Instagram recently, and you can find it here...I've also enlisted the help of a local photography studio to help with my product photography, so I'll show you those when they're ready!

6) Crafting communities are lovely
I've met so many lovely people on Instagram - they're all so supportive!

7) Shipping is expensive yo', and mega unreliable
Like £9 to send something tracked overseas, and £5 for non-tracked. It's supposed to only take 2 weeks, but has been taking 4 of late :(

8) Reviews take over your life
Like, really. I live for those little 5 stars of validation.. Aforementioned crazy abuse lady left me a 1 star review and I cried. I don't think people realise how much reviews mean to people behind the Etsy shops - we're pretty much all one girl bands!

9) Fees. Fees everywhere.
Etsy fees, PayPal fees...tax...

10) It can be the best thing ever and OMG so stressful.
because of all of the above.

Do you run an Etsy store? Send me your link!

Christmas time, mistletoe and wine...

I had a lovely surprise from Cotton Traders the other day as part of their Making Christmas Warmer campaign (from which I stole this photo) - a delivery man rang the bell and handed me a huge hamper full of lovely Christmas bits. I ended up splitting the hamper between James and a few people at work as they were all in the office this week - I definitely think the lovely biscuits and Christmas tunes helped ease the pain! (I luckily have been off all week...but trying to run my Etsy which has proven to be quite the headache...) It was very much appreciated, and put everyone in a lovely festive mood!

We've just arrived at the in-laws for Christmas as I type this, and I'm starting to feel a bit more cheery - 2016 has been a tough year, but the presents under the tree and the dining room set up is thawing me* - we also have mix and match penguin Christmas jumpers which I can't wait for!

We've done a couple of Christmas markets this year - just Winchester and Southampton and I'm starting to go off them slightly - they just seem to be the same every year! We're having mulled wine wine tomorrow, which is pretty much the best thing about Christmas markets so really I could have stayed at home.

What are you doing to put yourself in a Christmassy mood? Let me know on Twitter!


(*I think it's because Christmas falls on a weekend - everyone just seems exhausted and a bit overworked at the moment :( )

Life lately...December 2016

Sundays are for lazing about, drinking coffee and not doing particularly much. Which is good. Because that's all I've done.

Truth be told, I'm still nursing a hangover from Friday's Christmas party, which I wasn't going to go to until I found out I passed my last exam and am now an exam qualified Chartered Accountant. Woooo. Our kids are going to be so nerdy.

Anyway. I also spent Friday having an amazing spa treatment at the Lush Poole Spa. I went for The Spell, which is based on foot reflexology and was complete bliss. I would thoroughly recommend it - it's the second treatment I've had there and they've both been utterly wonderful. I'm definitely going to go again pre-wedding...which is now only in 4 month's time - eek!

I do actually have to get up from my blanket fort on the sofa watching The Vampire Diaries - we're going to James' cousins for Christmas tea (I think they're going to Sydney or Belfast or somewhere exotic for Christmas day). I think I'm going to wear my beautiful new Zara jumper I got myself as a treat (along with some other bits...). It's made out of gorgeous velvet wool and is a stunning olive green colour. I finally got round to replacing the chain on my bear constellation necklace that James got me, so I can wear it to death again! On that note, I've actually got some similar ones in the works for my Etsy, but hummingbird based.

Actually, going off on a tangent. My Etsy has been MENTAL this month, in a good way, but also turns out to be the source of ultimate stress. I knew as I expanded I'd hit problems, but people don't seem to realise I am a one girl band. The amount of messages I get about postage time to the US is insane! It takes forever, and there's literally nothing I can do about it. People also get pretty nasty when I tell them I don't have tracking info as they didn't select tracked shipping. Another sad point of the month was that I got a nasty one star review from someone saying they didn't like their ring - this was the first I heard about it - I pride myself on customer service and even do returns, but they just didn't say anything to me! I admit I had a little bit of a cry over that. As much as I like my teeny tiny little shop, sometimes I just want to hide from my phone.

Time for a cheeky plug! I'm going to have a January Blues sale in the new year with all my blue items reduced :)

I'm now off work until Jan 3rd and I couldn't be more excited! I've got all the Christmas stuff wrapped and have got all the Christmas jumpers sorted. Now lots of time to relax, sort out the flat and sort out my Etsy - I've got loads of new photos and products planned :D

I'm jetting off to New Jersey again for work for January, but this time I'm managing the (very small) team so I'm a little bit terrified! Can't wait for the shopping though...

Turns out I didn't take that many photos this season...so here's a picture of the jumper instead!

Hidden Bodies - Caroline Kepnes

I know I’ve been away from my blog for a while, but there’s no point in saying something for the sake of it is there? To be honest I’ve just been super busy, and haven’t had the chance to update my lil’ space on the internet. I know, I know, I said that last time too…

Anyway. I’ve FINALLY read another book, and it’s this corker. Hidden Bodies is another one by Caroline Kepnes, and follows directly on from ‘You’, a book I reviewed here and a slightly less than charming guy named Joe and his…ahem…adventures with his then girlfriend, Beck.

In this book, Beck is long gone (literally) and Joe has moved on. In fact, he’s fallen head over heels for another girl whom he met in almost the same way. Obviously, she breaks our poor protagonist’s heart by moving away, and he does everything he can to get her back…

The story follows Joe on his journey to Hollywood and his dealings with socialites along the way – one of whom he thinks is the one – the only problem is hiding his past from her…

Like You, this is very well written, but I do recommend reading You first for this to make any sense. Joe is very much as deranged and psychotic as he was last time round, so this book really isn’t for anyone who gets easily creeped out.

Again, you do end up feeling sorry for him at some points, which made me question my moral compass!

Check out what other books I've been reading as part of my 25 before 25 challenge here!

Smokey bacon and bean warming winter stew

I was recently set the challenge of creating a meal for four people for under £5 to see show that is is possible to eat properly at the end of the month when you've spent all your money - that and it was the perfect opportunity for me to start budgeting properly - we have a wedding and house buying on the horizon, and I still don't know where all our money goes! So, I brainstormed, flicked through our recipe books and got used to using my slow cooker! (this thing is a dreeeam.)

Anyway. I came up with this BBQ bean stew and hotfootted it to LIDL to get all the ingredients - that place is SO cheap, I have no idea why I haven't been before. (I've assumed you've already got the herbs and spices in your store cupboard - if you haven't, then you probably need to start one!) 

I went slightly over £5, but that's because I ended up with FAR more veg than I needed - which is perfect as these can be used the rest of the week. Or, to keep it under £5 or have a veggie option, switch out the bacon for sweet potatos.

This meal creates 4 servings - 2 of which we had on the night, and 2 we boxed up and put in the freezer for another day!

You will need: (Lidl prices)
1 red onion (56p for 4!)
2 carrots (43p for a bag!)
2 cloves of garlic (89p for 4 bulbs)
Pack of bacon (£1.69)
Kidney beans (33p a can)
Butter beans (any beans will do though) (30p a can)
Tomato passata (35p)
Squirt of BBQ Sauce (72p)
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

It's super easy to make, you just peel and chop the veg, chop the bacon and put it with all of the beans and other stuff into the slow cooker. Leave on for a few hours until cooked.