Category Archives: 4 – Everyday Dragons

Micobusiness Dreams

When I Grow Up…

Martha Bechtel’s eBooks Smashwords
I won a 30-min coaching/strategy session in a random-draw survey contest over at Story Bistro and I find myself in the odd position of having to put some serious thought into my long-term business plan.

Or, at this point, my lack-of-a-business plan.

Martha Bechtel's Custom Model Horses Etsy

Téa is an awesome person (check out her blog if you haven’t stumbled across it before!) and it seems the height of rudeness to head into a coaching session with “I have no idea what I’m doing, much less how to market it– HELP!” as my summary.

Although that’s probably more common than I’d like to think. I know from the comments section on her blog that there are a lot of folks like me out there… but they didn’t randomly win a coaching session and thus aren’t flailing around like idiots.

So it’s time to start hammering my nebulous ideas into something that can be described outside of my own head.

And that you can apply marketing kungfu to.


*rolls up sleeves and gets to work*

Baby steps (or: Etsy store reboots)

Empty Etsy Store
Behold, the desolation of Smaug– err, Procrastination!

I wasn’t paying attention and the last of my active listings in the Etsy store expired this month. I went to show a friend some examples of what a storefront looks like and the poor thing was sitting there forlorn and desolate… this shall not stand! [insert dramatic pose here]

But the problem with dramatic reboots is that all of a sudden nothing I’ve done up to this point is good enough.

  • I need to take better photos.
  • I need to touch-up existing paint jobs.
  • I need to redesign the shop’s categories to better handle my new addition to plaster and resin magnet-making.
  • I need to make a metric ton of new stuff so that the store has lots to choose from and people can easily find something that fits their price range and tastes.
  • I need to work out the Listing Rotations so there is always something new and the offerings are balanced between the categories.
  • I just generally need to be more awesome.

None of which actually needs to happen… I’m just caught up in that perfection’s dance where I can’t start any project until I’m 150% prepared.

Phooey on that!

Starting today there are only two requirements for listings going back into the store:

  1. I have unpacked the item and verified it isn’t damaged.
  2. The photos for the listing don’t have a datestamp on them.

I’m not going to make any sort of rules on how many things to  post a day, or when to post them, or what categories need to be posted in what order. As long as they meet the two criteria above, they are going into the store.

And if they don’t, well that’s why the other post I’m writing today is ‘Finding Workspaces That Work’. 😉

Turning back into a Hobby…

Live-ish From the Workbench 05-15-2015
Live-ish From the Workbench 05-15-2015

It’s been almost a month in the new house and my art desk is still hidden away behind boxes… so I think it’s time to finally admit I’ve thrown in the towel.

After looking over revenue from the past 12 months and then looking forward, I’ve decided to turn my micro business back into a hobby. I’m nowhere near profitability for this year to date and I lost money last year– I don’t think I can argue that I’ve got enough of a profit motive to be considered a business anymore.

I’ve made a couple of attempts to get the fire going again, but with the new house (and all it’s assorted projects) I don’t think I’m going to have the time to really get things started. So I’ll still be creating art and running the Etsy store, but I’ll be doing it without an official profit motive.

Ironically this might mean I actually get more art done, which means more things to sell… but it’s a heavy might.

Will I start up the business again someday? I’m honestly not sure– but I’d like to. Maybe I just need to wait until I retire properly and have more time to turn my hobby of running a business back into a business of running a hobby.

Bundling Prompts for NaNoWriMo

Prompts by Any Other Name
Prompts by Any Other Name…

On top of the Custom Prompt eBooks, I’m also looking at offering some theme-bundled prompts before NaNoWriMo starts up again. There’s nothing quite as much fun as getting other folk’s PlotBunnies hopping and with the forum reset delay I’m itching to get to work!

As you can tell from the checklist, I’m still pre-prompting my way through the 2015 calendar year, so I’m not at a point where I can easily stop and write new prompts. Thus it’s time to dig into the 1200+ prompts I already have… and try to suss out repeating themes.

Right now I’m going with: Death, Cats, and Sarcastic Banter. *sighs*

But assuming I can find enough prompts, I’m still waffling over the size and final price point. Long ago (and far away?) I did math on how much I should be charging per word and a $0.99 collection should thus run 20,000 words.

Yeeeah, no. There are only 7,000 words in a yearly collection and that’s 250+ prompts. eBook vendors really don’t want to see anything below the $0.99 price point, so I’m going to have to find an equilibrium that works. Right now I’m looking at ‘101 Prompts of BLAH’ just because it’s a fun number, but I’m not sure I’ll have that many unless I go with really broad topics.

But I won’t know if I don’t try, so into the mines! 😀 (Anyone have themes they’d like to see? If so drop me a comment and I’ll see if I can’t make it happen!)

Small Horse Head Magnets : Costs, How-to’s, etc.

Mix and Match Equines!
Mix and Match Equines!

I’m finally getting ready to start posting magnets to Etsy, so I figured what better time to do a How-to on how I make them, how much they cost to make (and sell).

This will cover all the supplies used, the time and methods for each step, and the accounting bits that go alongside. To be honest I made these just to learn how to cast in plaster, but then I got addicted to all the color possibilities and the fun of rearranging them. Figured it couldn’t hurt to share them in case another office out there was in dire need of a small crazy colored herd of whimsy.

The process of making these really isn’t that hard, but it does take time to learn how to make the silicone molds and to learn how to cast with the Plaster of Paris and wood glue mixture. While it’s still obviously cheaper to buy the magnets from me than to make them, it’s certainly more fun to grow your own! 😀 Continue reading Small Horse Head Magnets : Costs, How-to’s, etc.

Spreadsheets 1, Schedule C 0! (or: Five Minute Taxes)

Schedule C, Have at thee!
Schedule C, Have at thee!

One of the joys of having a crafting micro-business is doing yearly battle with the Schedule C (Profit or Loss From Business).

I might not have pulled in the big bucks last year, but I made it into the black and now it’s time to pay up. Thankfully I’ve learned a trick or two over the years and the actual form only took me a few minutes to fill out!

Stacking the deck for your Schedule C fight is as simple as tagging all of the entries in the accounting Ledger with a code for which line they go on. That way when tax time rolls around all you have to check for is if any costs have shifted groups. Continue reading Spreadsheets 1, Schedule C 0! (or: Five Minute Taxes)

Model Horse Listing Rotations: Take 4

Custom Model Horse Rotation 09-16-2013
Round 1, Fight!

I’m starting to run out of 2013 and with my goal to at least break even this year, it’s time to get serious about my sales.

I’ve made stabs at getting a listing rotation done before, but that was primarily looking at the Model Horse Sales Pages and after looking at the traffic results I’ve moved away from that venue.

Which leaves me with just Etsy and eBay to build my scheduling around.

I’ve built up a nice little herd on Etsy and since the main page can only display 24 horses (6 x 4), anything beyond that isn’t going to catch the eye. I’d still like to keep most of the horses in the store, but it’s time to start up an eBay rotation to get the old horses moving out as the new horses move in. Continue reading Model Horse Listing Rotations: Take 4