Creative Juices

Some springtime beauty

I opened up my Etsy shop back in February, 2009. At the time my shop name was Simply Smitten, a carefully thought out and chosen name. I was selling handmade note cards… and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, or where I was heading! SEO, forums, relisting, keywords, Google AdWords, Facebook…those concepts had yet to enter my realm of reality. I really thought that all I had to do was create and list an item... then watch it sell. I was simply looking for a creative outlet, and on the surface this seemed like the perfect solution.

I worked at it for awhile, spending too much time in the forums, taking and retaking (and retaking!) photos, making my acquaintance with Facebook, falling head over heels in love with Etsy and the whole handcrafted marketplace. I took stock after awhile, and this is what I saw ~ I was making hardly any sales and even when I did manage a sale, I was left with a profit of approximately, 50 cents. I had 3 young girls I was raising and homeschooling, a household to run, gardens to plant, animals to tend, baking to do… after awhile I just kind of let the shop… go. I didn't add anything new, I didn’t renew, I just let it die, quietly, naturally.

The rustic cabin we were staying in when the creative juices started flowing. It was such a peaceful place, until the bear appeared and started pulling towels off of the line! ;)
Then, in June 2010 we were on vacation in the Berkshires and I was struck, overwhelmed actually, with the desire to re-open shop. All that rest and relaxation opened and renewed the passion that had gotten me started in the first place. As soon as we returned home I got to work. I made tons of different items, seeing what would sell, what wouldn't, and I found a winner with the clipboards. I loved making them and they were selling steadily. I also decided that it was time to start spreading the word about green living and introduced my Inspiration Earth line of organic products, which did okay too. I felt pretty good, it seems I had found my niche.

It was such a gorgeous place to be, we discovered this waterfall deep in the woods. A real hidden beauty
What I’m leaving out is the many, many, many hours spent online. My business was picking up, but the rest of my life was benched, just hanging, languishing. Okay, suffering.  School was getting done, sometimes. For the first time that I can remember I didn't plant a garden last summer, there simply was no time and therefore no desire. The thought actually caused me stress and anxiety.  I wasn't even hanging laundry on the line, instead opting for the much quicker dryer, despite the fact that hanging laundry is usually meditative and peaceful for me. I was losing my connection to nature. I wasn't allowing time for the things that fed me. My life was being taken over quietly, stealthily by the computer.

Nothing smells better than line dried laundry! 
Last summer I knew something had to give. This wasn't working anymore; I wasn’t my happy, light-hearted self. I felt stagnant, all of those hours just sitting. So, I made the decision to empty out my shop. Not long after that I also walked away from blogging. No warning, I just woke up one day and knew what I needed to do. I craved some space and time to figure out what my direction was going to be. Who did I want to be? What were my goals? You know, all that little stuff that makes a whole and balanced life. I started to journal again, and read again, and create again for the sheer joy of creating and not the potential profits it could make me. I gave out stellar Christmas gifts last year. ;)

As you know, I reentered the blogging world, and also the lovely land of Etsy again,last December. A fresh start, with a fresh name, Backyard Dreams. This time I’m taking it much slower. I dislike Facebook intensely (I’m grimacing as I type that! ;), I found it terribly depressing, needy and a fierce time sucker. So, despite all advice I’m no longer a part of the Facebook world. I have a Twitter account that I rarely use. To be honest neither of them got me many views and virtually no sales. I joined Pinterest… but that seems to be just for me! ;) I am in love with the idea of a community sharing all of these wonderful ideas. I know that I could use it to boost Backyard Dreams, but right now I’m simply enjoying it. Jordan and I are always finding new and beautiful things to create and share! 

You can visit my Etsy shop here ~ Backyard Dreams
The girls and I had this week off from school, and so I decided to tackle the keywords in all of my listings again while I had some free time. I know this is helpful with both Etsy and Google and well worth the effort. I also wanted to lower my prices as much as I could. I totally believe that organic should be affordable and I made some changes that allowed me to drop many of my prices, substantially. I removed some items that weren't doing well so as to give my attention to the ones that are. I've tried the Showcase spots and they did improve my views and favorites quite a bit, I will do that again. I've set new and improved intentions for myself and Backyard Dreams. Basically what I'm looking for is ways to increase views without handcuffing myself to my laptop! And the best part? While I was tap tapping away a wonderful idea began to germinate. I became caught up in a delicious creative fervor! (This translates into: all I want to do is live and breathe my project ~ I even sacrificed my blog post last week, to keep plugging away at it. I know that some of you can relate to this...;) I did force myself to come up for air and maintain the rest of my life during all of this, it was a good and necessary balance. Something I wasn't able to manage before. When for some crazy reason I was trying to build an empire.

I hired Jordan to take my photos, and yesterday I listed them (drum-roll please...) Organic Gift Bag Sets!! Yay, I get giddy just thinking about them. In time I would love to make this the bulk of my shop orders. It's great fun making the bags, the simple note cards and deciding what to add into each set. It allows that crazy organized part of myself free rein. Beautiful.

This is my large Bath and Beauty Gift Bag, found here
My large Green Cleaning Gift Bag found here
My small Bath and Beauty Gift Set found here

My small Bath and Beauty Gift Set found here
I struggle a little bit with the repeated keywords in all of my listings, it sounds so uneducated and redundant for a lover of words such as myself. I almost want to add a disclaimer, an apology of sorts for my seemingly poor writing skills, but I figure if it gets traffic into my shop, it'll all be worth it. :)

I do love being back in Etsy. I frequently check in to my shop, simply because it makes me smile. I'm continually running new ideas through my head. Things go in the shop, things come out ~ basically it's a game of trial and error. Discovering what I love to make and what sells occupies my mind some days. So, so many ideas... Despite the learning curve and all of the hard work would I still recommend Etsy to a friend? Definitely, definitely yes. I love the handcrafted creative atmosphere, I adore being a part of it, and with the right information you can do okay. Some do much, much better than okay. Plus, those of us that love to create have an excuse now... as if we needed one. ;)

And now, I'll be off, I have another idea for a gift set and a giveaway to organize. I thought I'd kick off Earth Day giving away one of my new green bags... that is if I can get it together in time! ;)

Have a wonderful day friends. :)

Peace & Blessings ~ Melinda