2 Steps to Manage Your Marketing Time and Get An Extra Hour In Your Day

save time marketing online, quicker and easier marketingIf you’re like me, all the work you’re doing to market and maintain your creative business is probably making you feel a little overwhelmed. You’ve likely got Twitter, Facebook, your email, Flickr, Pinterest and a hundred blog posts open on your Internet browser at all times. And you’re probably flipping between then endlessly, anxiously waiting for your first sale and ready to pounce on the first question you get from a potential buyer. You’re likely flipping back and forth between social media outlets, trying to spread out your marketing messages so you can reach a larger audience. And you may be starting to wonder if you could save time by streamlining your process a bit.

At least, that’s what I was wondering.

Then I found two great posts over at Meagan Visser.com:

After reading, I realized how much time I’m really wasting flipping between tabs and checking constantly for messages from potential customers.  And when you’re feeling like there’s no time for all you need to do, then the first thing you need to do is look at how you’re spending your time and how you might carve some extra time out of your schedule.

So, let’s look at some things you can do to get that extra hour in the day that you’re always wishing you had.

1. Stop Checking Your Email and Social Media Constantly

Think about it for a moment, how many minutes do you lose every day from those two distractions?

I check my email and social media constantly throughout the day, anxious to see what folks are saying about my shop and eager to promptly answer any questions a potential buyer may have about a product. Each time I check in on email I waste time trying to clear my inbox or get lost going to another social media site. I check my Facebook constantly, especially since I get notifications on my phone if I’m not active at the computer when something happens there. But, then, I get lost looking at photos of kids of the “kids” I went to high school with while pondering if in fact there is a cult coming to get me soon. To get that joke, see the following image.

To avoid those two major distractions, Meagan suggests checking in on social media and email only 3 times per day- freeing you up to spend more time on those other, super-important tasks like updating your blog, reading and commenting on other blogs, tweaking your shop or actually making some new products.

I know how tempting it is to check everything each time a little notification dings or pops up on your screen- and I’m going to have a hard time training myself not to do it this week. So first, let’s consider those dings and pops our ultimate distraction and turn them off right now.

Seriously.

If you want to get an extra hour in your day, stop reading right now and go turn them off or at least put them on silent so you can check them at a designated time.

Then, check both email and social media when you start your day. Then again at mid-day and then again in the evening. And set different time constraints for each check. If you have to go over a little to finish responding to messages, then give yourself the extra time.

Personally, I plan on spending 30 minutes in the morning checking only emails pertaining to customer questions or messages on social media. I’ll check for the same emails at mid-day. Then for my final social media check of the day, I’ll be messing around for an hour or two, during the hours that most of my target market is online- when they are home from school, not in class and home from their evening jobs. I may end up spending a little more time in the evenings if there’s nothing else to do around the house or in the office/workshop and if there’s a lot of conversation going on online. But I’m going to cut down on the time I’m wasting checking social media and email for conversations and I’m certain I’ll find that I gain at least an extra hour in my day. I’m likely to gain more time if I don’t put the Big Bang Theory on in the background or start singing aloud to some classic rock or new-age indie and acoustic while dancing with my furry, four-legged love child, Cinnamon. (If those last three words didn’t scream “hippie”, I don’t know what will.)

2. Concentrate On One Task At A Time And Create a Schedule or To-Do List

Meagan’s Biz Challenge: Create Some “White Space” post offers amazingly simple instructions on how to literally cut your to-do list in half and make the most of your time.

Using her instructions, I’m going to cut my duties into blocks of time and work on one task at-a-time, until it is finished for the day. And instead of staring at a never-ending to-do list everyday, I’ll break my to-do list down every night into the top 4 things I need to finish the next day. I’ll also schedule time for other tasks that I need to work on every day or every other day, such as writing a batch of blogs, taking product photos and for reading, commenting and responding to comments on other blogs and blog posts.

Do you have any other tips for managing your time and chipping away steadily at your to-do list?

-Sarah

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Shop Update: We’ve Been Busy and We’ve Got Lots in Store, Plus Some Business Advice

By now you’ve probably saw the newest Facebook meme – the “What My Friends Think I Do” photos for different people, professions, etc.

An “old” friend and former classmate from college wrote an article about them last week, you can check it out here.

Anywho, I just LOVED this one for Professional Crafters.

Wow. Words cannot express my agreement with that last photo- it’s tough turning a hobby/love for creating into a business. I’m always overwhelmed and working constantly to market our business to find that exact perfect market and generate a steady full-time income. That’s the goal anyways- but it’s a long way away right now. But, I knew that going into it and I wouldn’t trade those sleepless nights and face-to-keyboard collisions for anything. Except that I have to.

Yeah, I’m searching for a part-time job to help us get caught up on  bills so we can pay off loans, get vehicle repairs, move and buy a new house…and buy more craft supplies, of course. ‘Cause seriously, who can say they have “enough” craft supplies- except when you’re complaining about how you need more space for new supplies, of course. Oh, and I’m also dreaming about taking some college art classes in the next year or two.

So anywho, I’ve been staying busy making new connections and driving traffic to our Etsy shop and our Facebook page. And I’ve really kept mom busy at it too. I tried out a Facebook advertising coupon that – due to my inability to read the fine print – resulted in some unwanted advertising charges but we’ve got a rather nice Facebook following now at just over 650 at my last check. All that marketing work has taken up some sleepless nights and I’m not sure how I’m going to manage it all when I get a second job, but I’ve put in so much time and energy and love in starting this business, there’s no way I’d give it up now.

But, thank goodness I’ve got mom to help me out- I’m going to keep her so busy she’ll forget that she’s retired. Ha!

Seriously though, I think our next marketing step is to really focus on this blog and start sharing our knowledge, recommendations and fun craft tutorials with our new audience over on Facebook. And maybe our blog will help us land a feature on another blog or help us get a guest posting offer on a popular blog that will drive some more traffic to our shop and blog. Because in the online craft sales business, you’ve got to drive loads of traffic to your shop just to get a single sale.

Sad. But true.

If you’re not making lots of sales yet, it means you’ve not got enough people window shopping in your shop- you’ve just got to keep getting the word out and encouraging folks to visit your shop. Oh, and create demand for your products- that’s usually as simple as getting word-of-mouth and online recommendations from friends, family and especially customers.

But, back to what I was saying about my dear mother– (I’m bad to get off on tangents, you’ll realize that the more you read my blog posts) – I’ll be keeping her busy and may even get her involved in blogging, which up until now has been my responsibility. I think I’ll definitely have her help me with some future “feature posts” in which we’ll be recommending some of our favorite crafters and shops we’ve encountered that we think you’ll really dig. And I’m also hoping to carve out some extra time to post more tutorials and write some posts shock full of crafty business advice for our fellow creative entrepreneurs. Because even though I’m a newbie myself, I read a lot and know a lot and there’s nothing I want more than to share what I learn through the process so that perhaps someone else out there can learn something new, useful or entertaining that makes their own journey a little easier or more enlightened.

I think that’s enough of my hippie rambling for one day.

Stay groovy and catch you soon,

-Sarah

Playing Catch Up

Boy, this week is young…but it’s already wearing me out! My to-do list for the shop feels like it’s a mile long. I had a cold last week and lost a couple of days stuck on the couch with a horrid sinus infection. Then I had company AND went away for the weekend – I’m not complaining, I had a great time hanging with some old friends from high school and then visiting my in-laws.

new polymer caly pendants
Monday's creations

But, the hectic nature of last week has put me behind on my blog schedule – but there’s only so much 2 people can do, and we’ve sure been busy promoting our shop and making new connections. And after some long days away from the beloved workshop, we got to sit down Monday and come up with a new batch of necklace pendants that we’re hoping to add to the Etsy shop by or on Friday evening. But remember, if you see anything you like, just send us a message and we’ll save it for you and process your order outside of Etsy, if this is more convenient for you.

In other news, I can’t believe the Etsy shop has been open for nearly a month now- we turn 1 month old on Friday! Time flies both when you’re having fun and when you’re busy. Seriously, I’ve been so full of creative energy- over the last month there were a couple of 48 hour periods that I didn’t sleep at all because I was too invested in what I was doing to even notice how tired I was. I guess that’s a trait of almost any creative person though, especially when they’re working on projects they are putting their whole hearts into. I have spent sleepless nights anxiously working on new clay creations as well as nights at the computer engaging with other artisans and crafters in Etsy forums and making new connections to help promote our shop and showcase our products to a larger audience. You really wouldn’t believe how much time was involved for all that, unless you were to sit down and try it all yourself.

And after all the work both myself and my mom have put in…it’s a little disheartening to approach our one-month Etsy birthday with no  sales, but it’s nothing we’re not prepared for- marketing, finding and building that perfect audience that loves your pieces and can appreciate the time, devotion and heart you put into each piece takes time. And we’re loving the journey, loving the new friends we are making, and loving that YOU are making the journey with us!

We finally reached 100 likes yesterday and got to give away this mushroom house candle tin/trinket box (hand sculpted from polymer clay) to one of our Facebook followers. We’ll be giving away more stuff on the Facebook page– so join us there to get involved in our future giveaways.

 

Weekend Project: Valentine’s Day Cards for Kentucky Foster Children

foster kids valentine cards
Give your love to foster kids this Valentine's Day!

Thanks to my current obsession with social media, I got to participate in a really great project yesterday- and you can too!

Wednesday night a Facebook friend re-posted a status update from For Jamie’s Sake– a non-profit organization advocating for foster children throughout the state of Kentucky.

The status update was calling for volunteers to create handmade cards for more than 6,000 foster children in the state of Kentucky. I had to help out- and if you’ve got a few free hours this weekend- you should too!

I made 30 Valentine’s cards in approximately 5 hours. It really shouldn’t have taken that long, but I had to tear sketch book pages out (because I was out of loose card stock), cut and fold them and cut out 30 or more foam hearts. You could save a ton of time by getting foam stickers or hand-drawing all of your cards. You could even get your kids- or your nieces, nephews, kids you babysit… etc, to make some cards. It’s a lot of fun and a very joyful experience – the entire time I was making my cards, I kept thinking about the kids’ faces as they opened their cards and read what I wrote inside.

You really should do this! You can get rid of some craft supplies you’re not using for anything else (supplies that are taking up space on your craft room shelves) and put a smile on the face of a kid that doesn’t yet have a forever family to spend Valentine’s Day with.

C’mon and do it, here’s what you need to know:

The Guidelines

  • Cards should measure no more than 8.5″ by 11″
  • Sign cards with your first name only – preferred.
  • Mail cards to:

For Jamie’s Sake

1544 Winchester Ave. Ste. 804

Ashland, Ky 41101

kentucky foster kids handmade valentine cards
Here is my stack of 30 cards, tied up and ready for delivery.
  • Submission Deadline: Feb. 3rd – That means you should mail cards out on Monday to ensure delivery by next Friday!
  • All cards MUST be HANDMADE. (Because handmade means you put your heart into it; that you care enough to put your time into brightening someone’s day!)
  • You DO NOT have to be a Kentucky resident to participate – just make sure your cards are postmarked in time to make it to office headquarters by next Friday, February 3rd.

Let us know if you plan to participate, and if you want- share photos of your cards with us on Facebook- we’d love to see what you come up with!

I’m Dreaming Of a New Work Shop .

My kitchen table, piled with craft supplies.

If you’re paying attention to us on Facebook and Twitter- we’re occasionally posting about being “in the workshop”. So, I thought I’d let you in on a little secret- our workshop is our kitchen. I bet other crafters – both hobby crafters and craft business owners – can relate to that situation and agree that it’s unfortunate. My kitchen table is typically covered in little baggies and containers of clay, tools and design sketches – and it all has to be packed up and moved or pushed out of arrangement every time we sit down to eat.

So, enough is almost enough. It’s time to get my own, private workspace.

Unfortunately the only room I have in my home for a workshop is currently the “junk room”. So, I’ve got a lot of work in store to transform that hot mess into a space for making my creative messes.

craft room remodel, home remodel, work shop remodel, studio remodel
Seriously, where did we get all this junk and why do we still have it?

Until then, I’ve managed to move things around in my house to find extra storage space- but for the most part, it will just have to continue to look like an artist/crafter lives here. Actually, I think it needs to look more like an artist lives here- I need brighter walls, more colorful curtains, some art work with more pizzazz. Hmm..maybe the whole house is in store for a remodel.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves- let’s see how the workshop goes first.

I hope you like remodeling projects and interior designs, because I’ll be sharing some decorating ideas and progress photos here as I’m working on the shop remodel. I’d love to get your ideas, feedback, and suggestions. In fact, you can connect with me on Pinterest and view my board: For My Office/Workshop to see some photos I’ve clipped to use as inspiration when decorating and organizing my new creative space.

And if you’re also in the mood to remodel your work shop or craft room- be sure to check out my Treasury List: The Perfect Workshop/Craft Room on Etsy for some handmade products to organize and decorate your own studio.

Give me some recommendations!

And check back here on the blog tomorrow for an opportunity to help some less fortunate kids this Valentine’s Day!

Until tomorrow,

Stay Groovy

-Sarah

Give From the Heart This Valentine’s Day, Buy Handmade

valentine gift guide
Photo credit: Michal Marcol

Love is in the air! Valentine’s Day is a short 3 weeks away. If you haven’t got your sweetheart a present yet, why not consider a handmade gift? What could be more “from the heart” than something skillfully and lovingly created by an artisan?

So this Valentine’s Day, buy handmade.

Need some ideas?

We’ve created a bee-inspired “Bee My Valentine” gift guide treasury list on Etsy to help you find a bee-themed gift for your honey this Valentine’s Day.

And you’ll likely be happy to know that we’re offering a V-Day sale in our shop!

That’s right! Order your sweetheart an item from Hip Earth Designs before Jan. 31st and receive 10% off using coupon code BEMINE2012 at checkout in the Etsy shop. You’ll also receive free shipping (okay, that’s available 365 days a year- but still, we thought we should mention it again).

So, don’t forget to buy your Valentine a one-of-a-kind, handmade gift and tell us, what are your plans for Valentine’s Day?

Our Etsy Shop Is Open

Whew! What a week it’s been! We’ve been super busy.

So busy, in fact, that my husband pondered yesterday evening how I was still awake after the long days I’ve put in since the shop opened just 9 days ago, on Jan. 11.

polymer clay pendants
A few pendants we designed this week

We’ve spent the hours since our virtual shop doors opened creating a handful of new products and designs. But a larger chunk of our time has been spent doing that one “little” thing that is necessary to turn a hobby into a business – marketing.

Through our marketing efforts we’ve had a chance to make several crafty new friends and discover many beautiful and inspiring products among our creative peers at Etsy. If you use Etsy, don’t forget to log on and like our shop and add us to your circle– we’d love to see what products you dig at Etsy. And you can connect with us on Pinterest too!

However, we’ll warn you…we’re nuts about all things handmade, so you’ll see lots of indie arts and crafts on our Pinterest boards. And if you’re a fan of bohemian and eclectic decorating styles, you’ll love my “Dream Home” and “Dream Garden” pin boards.

Until next time,

Stay groovy!

-Sarah

Welcome and Shop Policies

polymer clay artists
Groovy, nature-inspired accessories for you and your home.

Greetings!

We’re so glad you took time to stop by our blog. We’re literally just getting started – we haven’t even opened our shop yet. But, we’re hoping to get set up on Etsy later this week.

We decided to go ahead and start sharing our designs on Facebook to get feedback – and it seems that we’re not the only ones who think our designs are groovy.

So, while we’re working out the kinks on our Etsy shop’s grand opening, we wanted to tell you a little about ourselves and what we do.

About Us

First, let me introduce myself. I’m Sarah – the daughter-part of this artist duo and the creative entrepreneur who dreamt up Hip Earth Designs. I needed a career change and I’ve always loved creating arts and crafts, so opening my own shop just seemed like the best thing to satisfy my urge to create.

And all that creativity was hereditary – a gift from my mom, Shelia – the other half of Hip Earth Designs. Shelia (I prefer to call her “mom”) is retired from a career in nursing and has a lot of free time and some really cool ideas – so I talked her into helping me out (don’t let her fool you, it didn’t take much convincing). 😉

Our Products

Our medium of choice is polymer clay, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see us using other materials in the future. But, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the medium – polymer clay is a man-made, clay-like material consisting of polymer plastics. It starts out as a sort of rubbery substance – something like a mix between Play Dough and Silly Putty. Then, we condition it, sculpt it, shape it and craft it into a mini-artwork. Then, we fire each piece (or bake it) and the polymer plastics harden to a texture and consistency mush more easily recognized as plastic. Finally, we paint and add finishing touches to the design and coat each piece in a protective sealant.

So far we have a small inventory of wallets, cigarette cases and votive candleholders, but we’re adding new items and new designs very soon.

Our Shop

We’ll have our Etsy shop up and running later this week, but we can also process orders through Pay Pal – or hand-deliver if you’re nearby Grayson, KY.

Items listed in our Etsy shop are finished items ready for immediate shipping- expect delivery within 1 to 2 weeks after placing your order.

However, we also accept custom orders, which you can place via our Etsy shop or by messaging us on Facebook or Twitter – simply by sending an email to us at hipearthdesigns@gmail.com

Our Blog

Here on the blog we’ll be keeping you updated on new designs, recommending other artist and crafters we dig and sharing crafting instructions you can do yourself. Check back often and join in conversation with us in the comments, or on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks again for stopping by, we’re looking forward to getting to know you!
-Sarah