Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mommy Lifesavers--Product Reviews

I must admit when Jim and I found out we were pregnant I had never even changed a diaper. I did not know anything about babies. . .at all. Needless to say I was a little nervous about being a mom and that nervous feeling really hit home when I had to go register for my baby shower. I could not believe how many items were in that store! I just figured you needed a crib some sheets, a few bottles, then I could smack a diaper on him and I was done. I was told, by just about everyone, how wrong I was and a friend lent me her little product review book. . . and thus it began. Baby mayhem.

I spent hours reading over those reviews and vacillating over every little decision. I swear that book was both a lifesaver and the death of me all rolled up in its 800 pages. I was so thankful for the help but it seems the best mommy products were not truly revealed to me until AFTER I had Sebastian.

Within the first month Sebastian developed reflux or, in other words, baby projectile pukes. We went to the doctor hoping she had a magical answer to help him. . .not so much. It was not until the end of the second month and endless amount of puked on clothing that we found the greatest invention in my mommy world. . .Dr Brown's Bottles. In all my spare mommy time I had read an article about how they were supposed to prevent reflux and minimize baby puke. I was skeptical but desperate so that day I went out and bought one. In one feeding Dr. Brown was my new hero and is now the only bottle we use. Dr. Brown has saved my washer, my clothes and my new mommy smell from scaring all my friends away.

So I know all you mom's out there have favorite products up your sleeves and I would LOVE to hear about them! Please share and save me from future catastrophes of mommy ignorance!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Advertising: Utilizing a Sites Direct Traffic

Several times a month I will receive an email from another artist wondering how I became successful on etsy or other venues in which I sell my jewelry. I am a huge advocate in a unique authentic product, well taken photographs combined with effective item tagging and branding. Yet what good is any of that if no one ever sees your product? To that I simply say: ADVERTISE.

Owning a small business often means a small budget for advertising so it is even more
important to make those dollars count. When I first started selling my jewelry online I read so many articles about advertising and almost all of them pushed for outside or off-site advertisements. Suggestions like wear your URL or brand on your T-shirt, drive around with your web address attached to the hood of your car, and of course, the infamous, hand out more business cards. Seriously? Is that what will seriously bring in more traffic? It did not take long before I could answer my own question.

I have experimented with all different types of advertising; some of them were free and others were rather expensive. I have purchased advertisement spots in magazines, on blogs, handed out business cards, gone to shows, twittered. . . and the list goes on and on. But, nothing has been more effective than utilizing a sites direct traffic. Let's face it, even if you walked around with your website tattooed to your forehead no one is going to remember that web address or take the effort to look it up once they get home.

After months of researching different advertising venues I realized my money is best spent attracting the traffic that is already on that particular site. Duh. It was not rocket surgery, as my husband would say, it was just common sense. So that was where I put my advertising dollars. For example, on etsy, I posted. It costs 20 cents a listing to post and I posted several times an hour during prime hours or when I received a lot of views on an item. I also took advantage of the showcases they had on site. I used the same techniques for other marketplaces I was using as well and it has been very successful all around.

Though driving around with your URL plastered to
the front of your car or purchasing expensive magazine ads seems like a good idea I urge you to consider luring in the traffic your venue has already advertised for you. They are there looking to buy. They have done the hard part for you--now make yourself visible!

If you have questions or have advertising tips that have been successful for you please do not hesitate to ask or share!



Thursday, January 14, 2010

Memories are Forever. . .

When I was in college I took a class called American Family and I would have to say it was one of my most loved classes in my college career. The teacher at the time, Mrs. Stratton, was hilarious and I love to laugh--who doesn't?! She offered a myriad of practical advice surrounded in personal illustrations amidst the boring "stuff", the history into the family relationship. It was like taking my medicine with a spoonful of sugar--much easier to swallow (I never have been a history fan unless it was recapped with Brad Pitt as the star).

One class period was devoted to marriage and what college girl is not in someway dreaming about marrying the man of her dreams? I took copious notes as if this woman could give me the perfect plan to help find me the perfect husband and plan the perfect wedding (silly college girl). Though I listened ever so carefully, there was no great secret plan unveiled to my disappointment. However, one thought did resonate with me. She said "whatever you decide to spend your wedding budget on, do NOT skimp on your photographer. Skimp everywhere else if you have to, but this memory you want to cherish forever."

I tucked that thought away in the back of my mind, though I was still disappointed about not being given the "find a good man" secret. I tucked it away until I was asked if "I do." It seemed I had stumbled across the perfect man all on my own. As we planned our wedding I remember telling my mom how important the pictures were, we
could save on other venues. Unfortunately for me, Mom did not take Mrs. Stratton's American Family class. A big fancy photographer was just not in the budget.

This was a great tragedy to a newly married bride. Especially when you realize marriage is not the romance novel you quite dreamed up in your mind. Don't get me wrong, I married an amazing man who I fall in love with more everyday but cleaning skid marks in underpants was NOT in the original fantasy!

Alas the years have gone by but that hard lesson has not been forgotten. When it came time for our first child to be born I decided to save up and get the fancy pictures I had always dreamed about. Mrs. Stratton would be pleased to know that I did, finally, apply her class advice to my life. We hired an amazing photographer, Olivia Griffin, and she was worth every penny. No more photo regrets for this family because memories do last forever. . . as long as you catch them in good light.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Revamping My Blog. . . and My Life

It has been a while since I have taken the time to write a blog post and even longer since I have written about something in my life other than jewelry or being an independent artist. With that thought, I begin this article and a brand new journey in my life.

I have been so blessed to be 27 and have most of my dreams come true. I have married a man I love and am more in love with every day and started a successful business that I adore. I have spent the last 5 years pouring everything I have into making CaughtREDhanded a career that I love, a business that would help financially support my husband and I, and a job that would allow me to stay home with our future children. I have always known that I wanted to stay home with my children, if I would be so blessed to have any, but I also knew that was not going to be "enough" for me. Though I aspired to be a mom and a wife, I also had a desire for a career. I guess my desire was to have it all, the best of both worlds. But does anyone ever really get it all?

On October 5th of 2009 my son Sebastian was born and I guess you could say my quest to have it all began. I was a new mom who owned a business. Heaven, I thought, right? It turns out reality was quickly bearing down on my big dreams and big plans. I was smack dab in the middle of Christmas jewelry season, breastfeeding a newborn, 600 miles from family, and getting zero sleep. Was this the dream I had been so long preparing for? Had I been dreaming about holding baby in one hand while I super glued my finger to a pendant on the other? Why is this not working out like I had planned? Oh, I had it all alright. Now when can I start giving some of it back?!

It has been 3 months now and things are starting to calm down and fall back into place. Christmas season is behind us and I can now look a little farther into the future. I am even beginning to dream about more than just sleep again. My dreams may be changing, and my plans might be changing with them but everyday I wake up thankful and blessed that God has allowed me to "have it all".

So, as the days and months go on there will be a lot more articles about jewelry and secret sales but there will also be a little of it all mixed in.