As we begin another week, there is something that I want to mention to you all. For the past couple of weeks, I have taken a day or two off from blogging on the weekend. This isn't because I have had nothing to do or wasn't busy, but rather because I have have been very productive – usually so much so that I have been using my morning time to get a head start on things.
This isn't a bad thing. I rather think it is good. I have had several inquiries as to why I am not posting every day from those of you who are concerned and I wanted to let you know that it is nothing to be worried about and it is just something that I feel will help me stay on top of things and be more productive. I love talking to you through my blog each day, but it does take a bit of time in the morning to write, as you can imagine. Having those couple of extra days on the weekend have made me feel a bit more relaxed about things and I feel like I get a lot done in those few hours, and ultimately I think that it will be good for me and my business.
Our little business is really growing. That is wonderful for both Keith and myself (as well as everyone else, I hope!) Even though we are getting larger, I still try to keep as personally in touch with everyone and help as many as I can. As we get larger, I receive more and more emails daily from customers and non-customers with questions and so forth. I love hearing from people and I like helping them and seeing their photos of their projects and getting to know them, but there are only so many hours in the day. While I try to answer everything as soon as I see it, there are times when I just can't keep up. It is then that I feel that those couple of hours in the morning are better spent answering questions and emailing than blogging here. Especially when I am in-between projects or working on something that may not be as interesting to you all. It is for that reason that I think it is a good idea to skip every now and then and allow myself the time to catch up so that I can still work on designing new things and so forth. I think it just makes sense.
I know you will all understand because many of you have expressed that to me in the past when I have missed. But after rarely missing a day for four years and 1300+ blogs under my belt, I don't want anyone to worry or think anything is wrong. It is quite the opposite.
I am often asked how I can do so many things and not feel 'burned out' about my job. While I do love what I do, I am careful to remain aware of how I feel toward my day. If I have too many anxious days in a row, I know that it is time to step back and take a breath and change the pace a bit. While that isn't always possible at the moment, it is something that usually can be accomplished fairly quickly – even if it means saying 'no' to some things and allowing opportunities to pass. That is a difficult thing to do when you are trying to grow your business. I think that most people would feel that they HAVE to jump on every opportunity in order to make a small business work. But thinking things through and picking and choosing what is best for your business is what I believe to be the key to ultimate success. Yet it can be very difficult to make a sound and objective decision when you have your life in chaos. Time is needed to think things through and weigh each opportunity carefully when your head is clear and your soul at peace. And in order to do that, you need to take time for yourself and not only not feel guilty about it, but make it a priority. The good things will come. You just need to back off sometimes and just allow them to be.
I believe that downfall of many small businesses is the over-enthusiasm of people in the beginning and running out of energy before they reach their goals. The best analogy I can think of is a runner. If they are running in a marathon and burst out of the gate like a sprinter, there will be no way that they can maintain that pace for the entire race. There comes a point when they feel depleted and spent and need to pull out. Pacing is the key.
The same is true for running your business.
While your enthusiasm may be high when you begin your venture, you need to make yourself aware of things around you and pace yourself so that you are able to follow through. How many of you have overextended yourselves for the sake of your business? I know I have in the past. We are so eager to make things work that we don't take the time to think things through completely and before we know it, we are committed to so many things at once, it would be impossible to complete them (efficiently and competently) and ultimately, it hurts not only our business, but our own moral and self-esteem. After all – failing at something that is important is never good for us. It doesn't take long for things to spiral out of control and we are completely overwhelmed with things. As a result, we continue to make poor decisions and before we know it, we are looking at the idea of abandoning our businesses altogether. I have seen this happen to my creative friends many times.
So I believe the key to continued success is to know when to slow down a bit and take a breath. I have decided that I need to do that for a little bit at least until I feel differently. I will know when the time is right and at that time I will be back to my every day posts. It may only take a couple of weeks. It may take the entire summer. The good thing about it is that there is no set time frame for me to follow and the bottom line is that I will write as long as I feel I have something interesting to share. Not because I feel obligated to do so every day. I know in my heart that this is the best thing for me and I am sure you will agree.
With that all said, it has been a good and productive weekend. I spent Saturday finishing up my instructions for the new Painting with Friends pattern (PWF4 Summertime Tea Banner) and Sunday rebuilding my Etsy store with my painting patterns.
You may wonder why I decided to re-open the Etsy store when I have a full-functioning website of my own. (Keith had wondered!) My take on it is that we have over 700 products on our site, and as it gets larger and we add more items (as I hope we will) it is increasingly difficult to organize and segregate the many things so that people can see what they are interested in.
I realize that my business is actually two fold – the scroll saw pattern part and the decorative painting part. While they do overlap somewhat, each section has a distinct following. I keep the scroll saw part of the business as the forefront of the site because that is my main source of income. But that sometimes makes it difficult for my painters to easily see and find what interests them. While I could attempt to have two fully functioning websites – one for woodworking and one for scrolling – at this point it would be far too labor intensive to maintain the two and I don't think it would be a good option.
I already had an Etsy store but had not had any active products. While we found we had marginal success on Etsy selling our scroll saw patterns, I did find that selling painting patterns brought some new clients to me and also helped get world out that I do cut wood and offer custom wood cutting to painters. Etsy is fast and easy and relatively cheap to keep running, and there is the additional option of joining groups and making treasuries to further market my patterns. For now it is a good choice for me.
One more thing about Etsy is that it is a tried and true venue, and because of the familiarity of it, people may be more willing to try to purchase from me there. I find that with all the 'fly-by-night' companies on the internet doing business, many people prefer to purchase through an established place such as Etsy. They feel they have more recourse if something were to go wrong and things like feedback and ratings are clearly displayed so that customers can shop with a bit more confidence than if they were shopping with a private website owner, who may close their doors at the blink of an eye.
Once the relationship is established and the customer feels confident that the merchant is both reliable and honest, it is easier for them to 'go see' the other things they have to offer at a personal site, and a long time relationship can be formed.
That is just my take on it.
So for now, I will be keeping my Etsy site up to date with some of my painting patterns. I am also thinking of adding the art prints such as the snow leopards that I showed the other day and a couple of additional prints and items. I just want to go slowly and take it one step at a time.
I invite you to go to my Etsy store and like it if you wish. I added many seasonal painting patterns such as my SLDP104 Seashell Ornaments
And my SLDP214 Patriotic Angel Bear Pattern
This doesn't mean that I don't want people to come to our site. We will always have great service there and hope that will be the best showcase of ALL of our patterns and products. But for things like my new Painting With Friends design (PWF4 Summertime Tea Welcome Banner)
It will offer a familiar place to shop and hopefully encourage people to come to our site to see what else we have to offer.
And that, I believe, is good business.
Thank you again everyone for your continued support and friendships. I really feel very fortunate to have you all along on this journey.
Happy Monday to you!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"