Owl notecards, originally uploaded by gooseberrymoon.

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I debated about whether to post this here or on my personal blog but decided that while it's not 100% related to running a business that it might be of interest to my readers here.

In case you didn't know this, I'm 27 years old and right now I still live with my parents because Noadi's Art is my main source of income. My parents have been incredibly supportive of me and helping me get the business going. A big part of that has been letting me live rent free in exchange for doing all the cooking, taking care of some of the pets, and keeping an eye on my disabled uncle when they aren't home. My goal of course is to be independent and in my own place.

Like a lot of people I spent much of my early 20s unfocused and not sure what I was going to do with my life, thankfully I didn't get into credit card debt but I do have student loans still. Right now my business is doing better than I expected it to be at this point. So I'm getting my ducks in a row financially to be ready to get my own place in the next few months. I'll probably be able to afford the move in the next month or two but I'm probably not going to actually move until after Christmas (just too busy a time of year personally and for the business)

Since this is a big deal financially for me I'm going to share what I'm doing over the next few months. Hopefully as a fun example of what you can do running a little home based craft business and how to plan for big changes in your life.

What I'm doing right now:
I have a savings account currently with about $350 in it specifically for first and last months rent plus any deposit I need to make. My checking account has enough for all my bills and spending for several months so I'll be putting most of my money in savings for now. My goal is $1500 since I'm lucky enough to live in an area where rent is fairly low, especially when you're only looking for a small 1 bedroom place. I want that money in place before I even start looking for an apartment. I'm also doubling my student loan payments to get them paid off faster. Whatever is left over in my savings account after I pay what I need to for the apartment is going to stay there and become the basis for an emergency fund. I have a separate Noadi's Art Savings account (this I think is important, all businesses should have a separate savings account to only be used for the business).

Part of my pulling things together is learning more about personal finance and planning ahead. I've started subscribing to a number of money related blogs and added some books to my amazon wishlist. I'll probably be reviewing those books here.

Nice perspective on society's view of success and failure and why we should move past that. Just a little philosophical today.

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This is so simple and easy yet easy to overlook doing. Put a short thank you note in with every order.


Nice composition to this photo.

Caramel Latte Soap, originally uploaded by soap rehab.

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So here are the postcards I just had printed up. I think they turned out really great. To design them I used GIMP an open source image editor that's a lot like photoshop, I did it from scratch but you can find templates online to help you.

Brand New Pretty Postcards

What are the postcards for?
  • Contacting potential clients
  • Sending with certain orders
  • Posting as mini posters
  • Used as a mini brochure
  • Hand out at shows
I'm sure the list will get longer as I think of more uses. The postcards cost me about $0.14 a piece so it's a pretty good deal. If I had gone with customizing one of the default designs at Vistaprint and not uploaded a backside too they would have been even less.

Overall a very affordable bit of promotional material that looks great.

Designing a Postcard
Postcard templates
Sample Postcard Layouts
7 Tips for Successful Postcard Marketing

Places to Print

I know it's only August but the holidays are busy both for selling and personally so if you get prepared well in advance you will save yourself a lot of stress.

Ramp up production. My personal goal is to reach 200 items in my Etsy shop by mid-October. This includes making seasonal items now.
Stock up on supplies. You don't want to run out around the end of November.
If you get priority mail boxes from the USPS they usually have a deadline for ordering more boxes before the holidays. Do it now and you don't have to worry about it. If you ship international stock up on customs forms as well.
Make a list. If you write down all the stuff you need to do before the holiday season starts and get working on it now you're less likely to get overwhelmed.

About the beginning of the holiday season:
While the day after Thanksgiving is the traditional kickoff of holiday shopping plenty of people start earlier. So don't be surprised to see some holiday shoppers earlier than that (especially important if you offer gift wrapping).

This is the cutest sewing room and wonderfully organized.

sewing room, originally uploaded by SaĆ­dos da Concha.

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Etsy, Paypal, and other online services you're likely to use in your business have the option to download CSV (comma-separated value) files. These files can make keeping up to date with your accounting much easier. You can use them by opening them in your spreadsheet software of choice.

Tip: Download the CSV for each month and name the file clearly like paypal-01-09.csv for the paypal csv for January 2009.

Open Office Calc - Open source spreadsheet software equivalent to Microsoft Excel but free.
Spreadsheet Basics - Open Office Tutorial
Google Docs - Online spreadsheets
Streamline Your Records with PayPal and Excel - Paypal specific tutorial, adaptable to spreadsheet software other than Excel