Q & A: How do you schedule everything?

Craft Show Tips

Last week I talked about some tips for having a jewelry business and opportunities that come from doing craft shows.

After that episode I had some questions and I figured more of you might have these same questions, so I would start to answer them here.

You can listen to the audio or read below.

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Scheduling Everything.

The first question is basically about fitting everything into your schedule that you have to do to run a business.  Basically, I get the sense that a lot of you may be overwhelmed with how much time having your own business seems to take.

I’ll be honest, talking about this kind of freaks me out because I honestly don’t know how it all fits in.  Some days seem hectic and crazy.  Other days flow easily.  I do a lot of to do lists and I’m highly motivated by checking things off.

Yes, having your own business takes a lot of time. It’s especially difficult to think about if you’ve been working at a job for a while before starting your business because at a job you go in at a certain time and you’re done at a certain time and you don’t have to think about it anymore.  That was my experience at least coming from a job into self-employment.

Having your own business is nothing at all like working for someone else.

If I’m awake, I’m mostly at the very least thinking about the business. For example, I listen to business podcasts even while I’m cooking so that I can learn even when I’m doing other things.

The truth is I can answer this question pretty simply, but you’re not going to like it. You have to really come up with your own routine and your own rhythm. Owning your own business means that you get to figure this all out for yourself. You are the boss and you can do whatever you like.

My Tips for Scheduling

I’ll give you some scheduling tips that I have, but really it’s up to you to figure out your priorities, how much time you’re willing to give to your business and how much you’re willing to put into it.

I truly believe you can be successful if you’re willing to work hard and put in the effort. And if you’re not willing to do that, you probably should just go ahead and find a day job that you like. I don’t mean for that to be negative at all, but I do know that success does not happen overnight, no matter what it looks like, and that no one is lucky without a lot of hard work.

Here is the specific l question I received:

How did you split your time up in a week to a) designing and making, b) the paperwork, c) craft fairs preparation, setup and attendance, d) other marketing, e) photographing and posting items on Etsy/eBay/Website?

Also, do you do your own website?

My Answers:

Schedule:

I actually do a yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily schedule.

  • At the beginning of the year I set goals.
  • Then each quarter I do a map for the next quarter.
  • Then from that, I create a list for each month.
  • And then each week work on the monthly list.
  • Every day I create a daily to do list.

Daily I chunk my time into segments throughout the day, such as 9-1 work, 1 – 2 lunch break, etc.

And I work in 45 minute increments within that usually. I’ll actually set a timer, work 45 minutes and when the timer goes off I stretch and take a 15 minute break. Sometimes my “break” is actually marketing or doing something different business related, though. Sometimes it is going outside because I haven’t been in the sun enough that day.

I choose what I’m doing based on priority.

I pick the thing that is coming up next in my life/business that I have to get things done for. So that might be a craft show, a store that needs more inventory, shipping something or for me it might be an eCourse that I’m filming video for or tutorial I’m shooting photos for.
I usually have an action list for each project so I know exactly what needs to be done and I spend most of my time usually working on that project.

So let’s take a craft show for example.

You would need to make sure you have enough inventory, make sure everything is tagged, make sure you have all your displays and everything you need ready.

  • I always do a list of the inventory that I want to take to the show, so how many pairs of earrings, etc. I want to take. Then I see what I have on hand to take and make a list of what I want to make. And this is what I’m striving for. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but I do my best to stick to it.
  • I figure out how I’m going to make all these items. So I’ll have to make so many pairs of earrings a day to have them all done in time. I like to work in production mode when I’m getting ready for a show, so I’ll make all earrings one day and all pendants another, etc. I work out what I need to do each day to reach that goal.
  • I don’t necessarily say Monday is earrings day, Tuesday is pendant day because I hate have a schedule that is that fixed. But I know on those days I’ll be making stuff and I know I’ll work on similar items on each day because I work faster that way.
  • After the craft show is done, then I see what’s next.
  • And of course, the whole time you’ll still need to marketing. More on that in a minute.

If you are just starting, most likely you’ll spend most of your time on designing and making jewelry and getting used to your techniques, growing your skills and learning what your style is for your jewelry line.

Then I would suggest spending time photographing your items and getting good at that – both photographing and editing photographs.

And then looking for craft shows and listing items online.

After you have products you of course need to market them, which you can do through social media, blogging and/or a newsletter.

And you need to be taking care of bookkeeping the entire time.

So to bring this back around to the question, when I know I have something coming up, that takes up the majority of my time. I don’t create specific schedules, but I do create lists and I work in chunks of time.

So for me designing and making takes up less time now than when I started. When I started it took up most of my time. Now I have a good supply of jewelry to sell, it doesn’t take as much of my time.

Paperwork

When I first started my business paperwork was the worst part. I hated doing bookkeeping and I only did it every 3 months when my sales tax returns were due.

  • Now I have changed the way I think about it and I take care of paperwork every day. Some days I keep track of sales as they come in or I just log it all at the end of the day.
  • This might be shocking, but I actually do all my paperwork by hand because it’s so much easier for me to keep track of and see that way. I like to keep a running total, know where I am toward my monthly goal and know my exact expenses.
  • So not to confuse you, though, there are certain expenses that I only track monthly such as etsy fees or paypal fees. I fill in other expenses as I pay for them.
  • Once I started doing paperwork every single day as opposed to waiting, it got so much less stressful. And once I found a system that worked for me (which for me is paper and pencil) it got a lot simplier.

Honestly, this does not eat up a lot of time and if you stay on top of it like I said it’s not as big of a deal and it can actually be fun to watch your sales grow.

Plus, you can keep a better handle on things like how many beads you are buying when you keep an eye on it.

Craft fairs preparation, setup and attendance

I talked about craft shows a little bit and I think it’s completely normal to focus a lot of time on craft shows when you have one coming up and then less on them when you don’t have one coming up.

When you’re doing your first shows it will take you a lot longer getting ready for craft shows. For me at this point I simply need to make sure I have enough inventory. I already have everything else ready to go. And you’ll get to this point, too.

Marketing

Marketing is another one of those daily activities. I post a lot on my Facebook page and on twitter – a few times throughout the day. I try to Instagram a few times a week. I use pinterest daily. I blog a few times a week. I send out newsletters to 2 different groups each week.

I probably spend more time on marketing than anything else, but that’s not necessarily the case when you’re starting out. When you’re first starting out your main focus probably should be designing and making, then photography.

I don’t know exactly how much time I spend marketing, but I usually do it in those 15 minute breaks I was talking about before as far as social media goes.

My newsletters take some time and of course so does blogging.

I also try planning out what my marketing will be each month and even create a loose daily schedule to try to stay focused.

Photographing and posting items on Etsy/e-Bay/Website

At the moment I’m not selling my jewelry online because I’m taking a break, but when I was, this was a significant portion of my weekly routine.

If I wasn’t getting ready for a show or getting things together for a store, I was taking photos of jewelry and listing it online.

I hope these answers help you in some way.   I know it’s probably not the answer you’re looking for, but like I said, it’s your business, so set up your schedule in a way that makes sense to you.

Yes, it is time consuming, but it is totally worth it. You will get the hang of things and tasks will get quicker and quicker for you.

Okay, and now to transition into a separate question, but I can answer it pretty quickly.

Also, do you do your own website?

Yes, I do my own website. I have a wordpress site, which is pretty common. You can use it for a blog with some static pages, like I do, or you don’t have to have a blog at all. There’s a free version, which is wordpress.com, but it doesn’t have as many features and there’s the paid version, which is wordpress.org. You have to pay for your domain and hosting.
I find WordPress easy to use and I like a simple clean design in my website, so that’s easy for me to accomplish. You can of course get more complicated. If I did that, I would hire a designer.

But I would still handle the day to days of my website myself.

If this is something you’re thinking about doing, there are tons of free resources on the internet about wordpress and I recommend you check them out.

I also sell on etsy and craftsy, too.

I’ll answer more questions as we go along. I can, of course, answer them from my perspective, but you’ll find as you go along your own rhythm.

Certain things get easier as you go along, too and become much less time consuming as well.

Let me know if you have any questions. You can email them to me or if you are on the Craft Show Tips newsletter just respond to the email and ask away.

See you next week!

How to Be Successful Selling Handmade Jewelry

Selling Handmade JewelryLately I’m realizing that you {or at least some of you} are considering starting businesses – or have fledgling businesses – selling handmade jewelry.

As you probably know, I have several years of selling under my belt and have some lessons that could probably help you.  This post is an overview to get you thinking and planning.  It is by no means exhaustive and you will find other ways to make money doing what you love.

The great thing about being in a creative business is actually using that creativity to help run your business, too.

Grab yourself a coffee or tea, grab a pen to take notes and read on!

Button BraceletHow to be Successful Selling Handmade Jewelry

Step #1  Knowing your style and mastering your skills.

First off, you want to make sure you master your craft.  I don’t think you need to go to art school or you need to be a master metalsmith by any means (I didn’t and I am not), but you should have a firm grasp on what you are making.

Know your unique style and try to stick with it in some way.

Be the best you can.  Practice.  Wear your jewelry.  Make sure it holds up.  Use the best materials you can.  Take workshops.  Read books.  (Might I suggest a few tutorials?  The terms of use of my tutorials allow you to sell the jewelry you make from them.  Not everyone does that so be careful!)

Step #2  Figure out who and where your customers are.

If you have customers this is easier, but if not you can do some internet research and figure out where they are online and in the physical world.

{Some people suggest doing this and then creating your jewelry.  I think making jewelry is a form of art and should be based on the creator of art first.  I made jewelry for myself and as an expression of my creativity first.  I try to stay somewhat cohesive in style so as to not confuse my customers.}

Business Plan Scrapbook{My business plan!}

Step #3  Set up your business for success with a business plan.

Figure out where you’ve been, where you’re going and what you’re going to do with your business with a business plan.

It’s much easier to achieve your goals if you actually plan them out!

Sounds boring, yes?  And if you look up how to write a business plan and follow an example, it certainly can be. But I do I have the solution for a creative soul like you!  The Business Plan Scrapbook!  (I have retired this product for sale, but you can come up with some great ideas on making creative business plans yourself.)

Step #4  Set up multiple streams of income.

It is unlikely that selling in any one place alone will give you enough income to live.  So it’s important to set up different streams of income.

Here are a few ideas:

Online

It is so easy now to start selling on websites like etsy.  And it’s not that expensive.  There are other similar websites as well, but etsy is the big one.  Back when I started before etsy there was just eBay and some people still sell handmade jewelry there.  You can set up your own website as well.

The #1 most important skill you need for selling jewelry online is taking great photos!  You don’t necessarily need an expensive camera or expensive photo editing software to take great photos, either.

Lititz Craft ShowCraft Shows

When I first starting selling jewelry I kind of went about it backwards in those days (it’s kind of different now.)  I started selling online first because I was so shy and I didn’t think that I could handle craft shows.  Most people then started in craft shows first.

However, once I started doing craft shows is when I really started getting serious with my business.  Craft shows led me to so many more opportunities than I would have ever known without them.  In fact, one year I did at least one craft show per week (often 2 when you include a weekly Sunday market I did in the summer).

I wrote an entire book about craft shows and you can pick it up here.  I recently revised it because craft shows have changed.  It used to be that you could set up at a craft show and as long as it was relatively well-attended you’d make out fine.  That’s not really the case anymore.  You have to be more thoughtful and picky about shows.  In my Craft Show Tips eBook I tell you everything you need to know about craft shows!

Craft Shows got me over my shyness.  At craft shows I met so many wonderful people.  Also, at craft shows is where I met people who wanted to sell my stuff in their shops.

(I’m grouping craft shows, art shows and markets all together here.)

Consignment Shops

I have a love hate relationship with consigning my handmade jewelry.  In the best case scenarios, I sold a lot, had my jewelry well taken care of and was paid promptly.

In the worse cases I had broken or lost jewelry, had late or no payments and had to ask multiple times for either my jewelry or my money.

Consignment in boutiques or galleries can be profitable depending on where the shop is (again, you need to know your customer), the owner and how involved you can be.

How it works is you drop off your jewelry to the shop and they try to sell it.  If and only if the jewelry is sold you get paid.  Typically you get 60% and they keep 40%, but I’ve had 50/50 before at very popular stores (and a gift shop for a nonprofit) and have negotiated to keep 75% before as well.

Before you agree to consign, make sure you check out the store and see how it’s kept.  Get to know the owner and talk to others who have consigned there.  You can probably figure this all out by just visiting the shop and looking around and talking to the owner.

When you decide to consign, make sure you have a signed agreement (usually they will have one, but if not, make your own) that clearly states the terms, who’s liable for theft or damage, how often you will receive payments, etc.  You can find samples on the internet if you need one.

When you drop off your pieces, make sure you have a list of the items.  Have a copy for them and for yourself and ask them to sign it for your records.

I recommend checking in each month to see what sold (and ideally you’ll be paid monthly as well and get a list of things you sold), make sure your stuff is being cared for properly, take out stuff that isn’t selling and drop off new items.  You can work that out with the owner.  Don’t go too long without checking in.

Don’t just think jewelry stores here.  Think of places that people who would like your jewelry would shop.  Think of places you go and if they have gift shops.  Would they be a good fit?  Local shops often love selling local artists’ work.  Do you have any boutiques nearby that would be a good fit?

Wholesale

Wholesale is much more desirable than consignment because you receive the money upfront and you don’t have to rely on the owner of the shop to pay you later.  They place an order and you deliver it.  The standard for wholesale is 50%, but you do not have to do that if you don’t want to.

I recommend setting up your prices from the beginning so that you have room to offer 50% off for wholesale orders.  I require a minimal order to place a wholesale order.  Some people require certain types of stores or other conditions, but I only require the order to be a minimum amount to qualify for wholesale.

Co-ops

I was involved with a co-op store for years.  It was similar to an antique co-op, but this store had art, handmade and antiques.

I paid a monthly rental for my spot and then the store took a small percentage of the sale of my products each month.

I’m not sure how many of these types of stores are out there, but if you’re in the Lancaster, PA, USA area, check out Building Character.  I sold at Building Character for years until I took my jewelry selling break.

Some co-ops require you to additionally work there a certain amount of hours per week or month as well.

Glass Tile Pendant TutorialCustom Orders

A large portion of my income came from custom orders.  Some were ongoing orders from nonprofits that I worked with for fundraisers, some were repeat customers purchasing more gifts for people and some were new customers who wanted help making their ideas come true.

I highly recommend that you take custom orders.  It might seem a little scary at first, but if someone asks you to do something out of your league you can tell them no.  If they ask you to copy someone else definitely tell them no.

Usually custom orders for me came from people who saw my jewelry and had an idea for something somewhat similar and then asked me if I could make it.  I made a lot of scrabble tile pendants and glass tile pendants and that’s an item that’s easy to customize.  People automatically start thinking of what they would get if they could have any pendant and they are excited to talk about it.

You can get paid upfront and even charge a little more if you wish for custom orders.  In fact, I eventually always asked to be paid upfront for custom orders unless the person was a repeat customer.

I love custom orders and I hope you’ll consider them, too.

Home Parties

Thinking back over all my income streams over the years where was I most successful in the shortest amount of time?  Home parties.

Think Mary Kay or The Pampered Chef.  You get your friends to host parties, have snacks, maybe some wine and show them your jewelry.

I have done this in a couple different ways:

  1. Open house or drop in style.  You set up your jewelry in a nice display, get your host to provide light snacks and drinks and people drop in throughout a few hour period.  They can try on jewelry, make custom orders and purchase right on the spot.
  2. Fixed time.  Everyone gathers around and you can do a presentation about your jewelry, play games, have door prizes, etc. with lots of time for trying on, shopping and purchasing.

I always have door prizes no matter what type of party it is.  The prizes are always my jewelry!

You can start out by having them in your own home and inviting your friends over.  Or ask your family and friends to host.  Come up with a nice thank you for them.

If you start branching out more to people who aren’t as close to you, you will want to come up with a specific reward for the hostess to make it worth her while.  Your best friend or sister will probably do it for free, but other people might need a little more enticement.

You could offer a percentage of your sales in jewelry or maybe you’ll even want to give her a percentage of the cash if that is more appealing for them to sign up.  (I offered jewelry or cash and every time the people opted for the jewelry.)

The hostess will invite her friends, but you might want to send out invitations for her (or give them to her to send out.)

If you also sell online you can have online parties or even create a catalog and have a catalog party.  Use your imagination.

Others

Come up with other ideas of where to sell.  Really think about your customers and where you might find them. Maybe a hair salon?  Maybe you can strike up an interesting deal at a coffee shop?  Maybe your jewelry belongs in an art gallery or in a gift shop at a gallery?

Make a list and see what you can come up with.  Then get confident and start talking to people.

Step #5  Set up systems for keeping track of everything.

This is well beyond the scope of this blog post, but I did want to mention that you should come up with a way that works for you to keep track of everything.  Every cent you spend on your business and every bit of income that comes in need to be accounted for.  Whether you get specialized software, use spreadsheets or go old school and hand write everything, you must keep track of it all and have a place to keep receipts.

In Conclusion…

Selling your handmade jewelry can be a very rewarding experience.  There  is absolutely no feeling like the one that comes from seeing someone on the street wearing the jewelry you made.

Take the general steps outlined above, do your research and get started!  If you need help, make sure to check out the resources I link to and feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments below and I will try to help!

Good luck!


I would love if you would be kind enough to share this post if you found it helpful!  🙂  And please leave a comment below!