Friday, July 25, 2014

Questions-Reflecting on my Goal

After reflecting on the next steps even more I've decided to narrow down my plan even further.  I keep asking myself, "What do I want to accomplish?  How can I make what I made? How can I make even more?  How can I manage my time so that I have a balance between work and being mommy?"

Here is my attempt at answering these questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?  I want to earn a living from home so that I will be more accessible to my child and other wonderful family members if they need me.  I want to be able to manage my time so that I enjoy life fully and take nothing for granted.  I want to get ahead and not tread water all the time.  I want to have many happy returning customers and steady orders.  I want success!  More importantly I want freedom...
  • How can I make what I made?  Now this is perplexing... I am not going to say what I made outright but with over a decade of experience in the classroom and a Master's Degree I made a decent amount.  I've always wanted more that what I made because I spent a lot on my classroom and had a lot of debt so I always felt like treading water.  Right now I feel like I am sinking so to make what I made it is the first goal.  To accomplish that I want to have at least 20 orders a day since I do not have a lot of "higher priced" items.  Either than or change my inventory to a higher price point and sell at least 10 items a day.  In order to increase the number of orders, I need to list my items consistently and have at least 30-40 listings end each day.  My concern about this plan is the listing/eBay fees. All this additional activity would equal additional expenses.  Would that cancel out the profits?
  • How can I make even more?  I don't know.  I want to have multiple streams of income that is why it is a dream to learn how to properly monetize websites through blogging as well as continuing my eBay business.  I want to become a skilled artisan and make high end jewelry.  Right now I am starting out with costume/fashion jewelry.  As my skills grow, I hope my profit grows too.
  • How can I balance my time between work and being mommy?  Again a tough one... I have to work when she's asleep.  What I am finding is that I'm tired too.  I think I just have to push through and make a priority list each day of what needs to be completed.  I don't rest until it's done.  Raising my daughter will always be number one on that list.  I can also include her in some of the activities.  It's so cute that she pretends to bubble wrap her toys and takes them to the post office.  She helps me already get the labels off the printer and puts the packages in the bag to take to the post office.  She even gets the receipt from the postal workers at the post office when we drop off the packages. Oh and she goes with me when I am hunting for treasures to sell.  I just need to be more productive with squeezing in listing time and accept that I cannot have a long expanse of time to just work.  It needs to be broken into smaller chunks.  (Please note this is very hard for me so it is a work in progress.)
There are even more questions bouncing around in my head.  The worst ones are "Can you even do this?  Are you going to give up?  Are you failing your family by chasing your dream?  Are you being selfish for wanting this?"

To these questions I say "Choose Joy!" That's my mantra this year.  I am trying to push out these negative thoughts as fast as they pop in my head.  I keep praying to the Lord for guidance and praying that I will see the doors He opens for me.  I pray that if he wants me to change paths he makes it abundantly clear.  I am listening hard for the Still Soft Voice and I am putting my life in the Lord's Hands.  I hope I am not being selfish.  I pray that I learn from any lessons He places before me...
On that note, I better get to working this plan!  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Coming up with a Business Plan...Can I Do It?

There is no question that starting your own business is a challenge...

Learning how to drive traffic to your site is a process...

I keep going over and over what I should sell...

Should I stay on this path or change directions?

I'm doing well but I am not earning a living yet and I want to grow, grow, grow my business.

Always the overanalyzer, I have been reflecting on what I can do better.  I've determined that I am trying to do too much at once. 
  • I want to add more listings to my eBay store.
  • I want to make more jewelry and add it to my new Etsy store.
  • I want to create products for my Teachers Pay Teachers store. (I need to update my store too!)
  • I want to keep updated.
  • I want to expand and link it to Amazon products.
  • I want to continue to blog at about growing a small business and about some of the interesting things I am learning about vintage products.
  • I want to add more blog posts about Teaching with Everyday Objects on and eventually turn it into a book with accompanying activities.
  • I still want to write children's books.
  • AND right now I am trying to find a part/full time job to supplement my income while this business grows.  
  • AND I am trying to be a good mom and spend as much time with my wonderful little girl.  AND I am trying to keep up the house.  
  • AND I am trying to be a wife who is not distracted by all of these things so my husband doesn't feel neglected.
I feel pulled in so many directions.  

I need to be proactive and make some tough decisions.  I've backed out of my booth at the antique mall and I have backed out of my booth at the flea market because it was just too much!   There are only so many hours in the day. 

I want to do some guerilla marketing with my business cards and make flyers but I don't know if I have enough products in my eBay store to keep people interested and the Etsy store needs to be build up more too.

With it being so close to the beginning of the school year, I should be making some items for TpT.  
I keep bouncing around from one want to the next.  

My current plan is as follows:
  • Post office= Every Day! Mon-Fri.
  • Monday-eBay all day!Please note when I say eBay all day I am referring to listing.  I need to grow my store and all day is not all day.  I still am mom in the morning until 9 and then mom again at 2 or 3.
  • Tuesday-Family Day with e-Bay during "nap time" and after "bed time"
  • Wednesday-Family Day with eBay during "nap time" and TpT brainstorming at bed time
  • Thursday-TpT / Groovy Educator all Day!
  • Friday-Treasure hunt and eBay, eBay, eBay
  • Saturday-Family DayDuring nap-time=catch up time (Possibly a trade school, craft fair, or flea market)
  • Sunday-Family Day - Squeeze it what I can when I can.
I will still periodically add to and do quick updates to the blogs but I needed a plan.  Oops the jewelry making was left out.  I can always fit that in during Family Time since my daughter is very interested in the process.  We can each work on our own projects.

Notice there is a lot of family days because family is important!  I want to enjoy as much of my daughter's early years as possible.

In the mean time I have to keep searching for additional work.  I just don't know how this will all come together but I am putting it in God's Hands.  

I don't know if I am putting too much of an emphasis on eBay but it is where most of the income is coming in.  I would love to sell new products too.  I have a product line in mind but I have to keep it on the down low until I get the capital to invest.  I have some ideas for teaching apps and products but I will only pursue those if I am am successful and get ahead.  I watch Shark Tank and just wonder how do people do this?  How do they come up with all the money?  I don't feel comfortable asking people to invest in an idea.  At least not now because it is just a pipe dream right now.

Times like these I miss my Dad.  We would always bounce ideas off each other.  He was a wonderful listener and then always came up with some super insightful comments.  He was always encouraging and inspiring.  

If you have any thoughts or suggestions I would greatly appreciate them.  I am so used to the structure of my teaching career and right now I have limitless directions I can move and I am not quite sure what to do with all this freedom.  With teaching there always has to be a plan as with a business there needs to be a plan.  Am I trying to do too much?  Not enough?  

As with life, just keep going...don't quit.  Never quit!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lowery's Loft LLC on Etsy!

I have finally done it!  I've opened a store on Etsy.

There are only a few items in the store right now.  After listing so much jewelry on eBay, I've been inspired to start creating jewelry.

In the shop there will also be items under the theme "Choose Joy."  This is my mantra this year and I look forward to making magnets and pictures to hang with this theme.

With all the back to school hype, I might take a detour and make items on Teachers Pay Teachers as well.  There are just not enough hours in the day!

Please share, share, share Lowery's Loft LLC with your friends whether it is the eBay, Etsy, or TpT.  Please pin items on Pinterest and share on Facebook.

 I am trying to stay at home with my daughter and grow my business.  Thank you so much for helping to support Lowery's Loft!

Also please remember has links to just about everything.  
(I haven't added TpT to it yet.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Shipping Lots on eBay (How Much Do I Charge?)

Tonight I am going to list lots of lots on eBay.

When I list in lots I weight the lighter lots.  If they are less than 13 oz I mail them and charge between $3.00 and $3.75 for shipping.  I try to keep shipping costs low for the buyer but I have to factor in the cost of supplies (e.g. mailer, bubble wrap, printer ink, label) and the fees (PayPal & eBay).

If it is a small lot that weighs more than 13 oz I try to ship it in a flat rate envelope which I charge $5.00 since I do not have to pay for the envelope itself.  I prefer this method because it is more economical than the flat rate box and it hold more.

The flat rate box is ideal for breakable or fragile items.  I charge $5.75 usually to mail it via this method because it costs a wee bit more.

When the lot is larger I aim to have it fit in a medium flat rate box.  I charge $10.00 and eat some of the fees.  Chances are if you are using a medium flat rate box that the value is higher.

Regular boxes shipped priority that weigh two pounds or less I charge between $6.50 and $8.00 depending on the weight.

Large flat rate boxes are great for very heavy expensive items.  I really do not like to use them often through because the shipping is $17.00 which can eat into profits.  So rather than shipping a ginormous large flat rate lot, I may break it into two smaller medium flat rate boxes to make shipping more affordable for the buyer.

Well, that's my take on shipping!

You can check out my listings to see how I do it.

Please note sometimes I charge less than what it costs me to ship and build it into the price.  For example If I think a pair of earrings is worth $6.00 I may list them for $3.99 and only charge $2.00 shipping.  It will cost me more to ship it but I like to change it up some to see what motivates buyers.  I have found lower shipping costs can be a deciding factor.

Happy Shipping!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Understanding eBay (Trying to Build Traffic)

It can be overwhelming to try to understand eBay.  I know how to list products, manage my store, find items, but I do not know how to build traffic.

Merely stating eBay is an extreme understatement.  There are millions of sellers and gazillions of listings.  (I may be exaggerating...or not, your call.)  The question of the day is:  How do I get others to notice my items in my store?

I've been looking into SEO optimization and it sounds interesting.  I do know that when I am super descriptive in my "description" my items get found (especially if they are on the rarer side).   

But when I list an average run of the mill costume / fashion unsigned jewelry bit or bauble, it is like a needle in a haystack.  I guess I could simply limit my listings to items that have a name per se and clearly identifiable attributes.  I am getting better at doing this but there are many pieces that are beautiful and they go unnoticed because the words to describe them are overused.  What do you do then?

I guess the solution would be to draw more people into my eBay store where they happen upon these items while perusing the listings.  BUT...Do people actually do this?  What type of shoppers are on eBay?  Are they the ones who are looking for hard to find items and hone it and buy just that item or are they leisurely lookers who glide from one eBay store to the next?

What can I possibly do to set my store apart?  In all essence I am just another resale shop.  I try to have excellent customer service.  I know that is important.  What can I do to get satisfied customers to share my store?

How long does it take to grow an online store?  

I'm sorry to ramble but this is how my mind has been revolving since beginning eBay.  I research and I research and I research.  I apply some techniques and I research and I research and I apply but my wheels are spinning.  

If you have any surefire advice on growing a business that does not cost money, I would love to hear it. 

Also, I am at around the 1,000 listing mark.  I want to grow my store further but then the fees grow too.  Would it be better to just remain at this level or take it to the next step?  

AND when it comes to pricing I want to keep things at the impulsive price point because it is such a good deal but I feel that I might do better selling less for more. 

Is it better to sell less for more or more for less?  Sales is quite complex and there are gazillions of books and blogs about it all trying to sell you something.  I just need to continue to plod along and discover as I go.  It's just hard to be patient and grow slowly because what if it doesn't grow?  I'm thankful that it is manageable but I am ready to hit the ground running.  I guess I could just try to up my daily listings and make sure that I do not become complacent. 

That's my new plan of action.  List more daily.  Gradually find items that are at a slightly higher price point or sell the smaller items in lots and never give up.

On a very personal note:  My Dad passed in March and he was my eBay mentor.  Last week while digging through a bin at the top of my closet I found an autograph book from 5th Grade. Dad had written a message for me 25 years ago that struck home.  "Winners Never Quit and Quitters Never Win.  Andrea Never Give Up."  Needless to say, I am not giving up!  Learning is an evolving process and that is why I love it.  Learning eBay is just that.  Will I ever understand all the ins and outs of eBay or for building traffic for that matter? No but the quest continues...   

If you haven't visited yet...Check out    
 The portal to my eBay store....oooooo.....ahhhhhhh

I added this nice little image (that you see everywhere) in case you wanted to pin it on Pinterest or share it on Facebook...Hint...Hint

My Amazon Store

Please visit my Amazon Store for essential teaching resources, great read alouds, and children's books.

Here also some music I just love from the TV show Nashville.