Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday, 26 FEB 2016 :: Questions Entrepreneurs need to answer.

I came across a list of questions in one of my emailed newsletters from the US government and decided it would be good to share them with you.  It's called  "20 Questions to Answer Before Starting a Business." ( )  

I am going to see if I can answer them about my goals for Working Together AND my goals for my art and crafts.  It will help me see what else I need to learn.

  1  Why am I starting a business?
  • To try to save as many Christians as I possibly can, especially those who will still be alive as persecutions rise and the Antichrist comes into power.
  • To supplement my feeble Social Security Retirement income (less than $400/month), which is always in jeopardy from government budgets and fiscal collapse.

  2  What kind of business do I want?
  • A Christian business-ministry hybrid... a business that can be protected from the enemies of GOD, Christ, and the Bible... a business that can continue until it is no longer needed.  A resource connection point where Christians can turn for help, a place to protect Christians from the values of the unsaved, a refuge from the difficult environments that will develop as sin increases and righteousness decreases, and a place to guard against as much persecution violence against Christians as possible.  Working Together is a business focused on providing ministry services with a membership format.  Some of those services are food, shelter, financial supports, medical options, fellowship, and other day-to-day needs for individuals, families, and seniors.
  • Something I can do part-time, as I am able to, and sold online.  Starting with Christmas collectibles, I want to create both unique and manufactured sales options.

  3  Who is my ideal customer?
  • Every Christian.
  • People who like original art, Christmas ornaments, various crafts, and other things I will design and create myself.

  4  What products or services will my business provide?
  • Information, networking, material supports, political advocacy, education, and more.
  • Christmas ornaments, jewelry, booklets and paper products, original artwork, food options, and more. 
You get the idea... now you can answer these questions for your business concept.

  5  Am I prepared to spend the time and money needed to get my business started?
  6  What differentiates my business idea and the products or services I will provide from others in the market?
  7  Where will my business be located?
  8  How many employees will I need?
  9  What types of suppliers do I need?
10  How much money do I need to get started?
11  Will I need to get a loan? 
12  How soon will it take before my products or services are available?
13  How long do I have until I start making a profit?
14  Who is my competition?
15  How will I price my product compared to my competition?
16  How will I set up the legal structure of my business?
17  What taxes do I need to pay?
18  What kind of insurance do I need?
19  How will I manage my business?
20  How will I advertise my business?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thursday, 25 FEB 2016 :: Reposted from Facebook Etsy page

Thursday, 25 FEB 2016
It has been one of those early days... up (finally) about 3 or 3:30 am to use my time better, and ending up on the computer because it seems like a quiet activity. 
I eventually looked at ETSY teams to find an "art" team to follow more closely and discovered I am already part of some Christian teams with artists !! Duh! Now I have to decide which one to follow as a digest in my emails...

I did find a new craft site online, through linking from here to there. I think it is based in Europe because I kept getting shops in that area while I was there (just a short time). It's called "" and is similar and different than Etsy. It was kind of nice to compare the two websites. It was also nice to think about expanding (eventually) to another crafting site.
I had some problems with the "art" category, though. In this category you end up being violated by nudes and other topics you don't want to see. I have been trying to figure out how to get away from this, but haven't found a way... other than starting your own site that has that limited out. Maybe someday....
I was inspired by the ACEO's I found... and discovered a new art category called small art... I will have to find that acronym again. It was for art that is limited to 4 x 6 inches. :-) I like that. I plan to make art that fits a standard mat and frame, and that is one of those standard sizes. I joined the Facebook group for that so I should be able to find it again. :-)
I also discovered an embroidered felt ACEO on Folksy. It was nice. I think display has to be the key to selling these creations... so maybe each item needs to be framed and ready to hang on the wall... which would cost more, but be a better product. I guess online selling is like a gallery... the art has to be ready to display, a finished product. The buyer doesn't want to go through all that trouble, they just want to buy the art and hang it in their home or office. Now to figure out pricing..........
Well, this turned into a blog entry, so I will re-post it on my site. That works for me !! :- )


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday, 21 FEB 2016 :: Etsy Updates ! Selling strategies for online shops! and GOALS!!

I am trying to make Sunday the day that I do my planning for the next week, the day I enter all the details on my developing GOAL pages, and I realized that Sunday would be a good day to update my shop announcement, too... so I did that today.  What happens next Sunday will depend on if I read my notes and to-do lists.  :-)

I have been trying to create a set of pages that will help me to keep track of my different activities, shops, and goals.  It has been a long ongoing process.  Some of the discoveries have been great, but I am still challenged to get it all to "work together"  (like my main business for GOD and the Body of Christ :: ).  

I think I will end up with a single page for each website, and a separate budget record for myself and Working Together.  Recently I remembered that there are "stats" (statistics) available at the websites I am trying to sell at, so I am not trying to decide which ones to include in my process. 

Keywords are probably going to be the main statistic I look at first... then I look at where the traffic to my shop comes from.  Both are still new efforts for me, and I have a lot to learn about using them for making decisions. 

Advertising options are also becoming important as I am working on a budget for marketing.  I have been exploring the "boost" buttons at Facebook and Twitter Ads and other opportunities that might be available to me.

I have been scaling back my ongoing activities to make more time for creating and listing my crafts.  I have supplies, and ideas, and lots of pricing details to work on.  When I look for similar sellers, for advice, for help with these decisions, I have been trying to find them at the sites I sell with. I especially think that teams are the most important resource for me, but it is hard to find one that offers what I am looking for.  I am praying for guidance to find the best choices for me.

I belong to 23 teams at Etsy, so far.  I am now following closely only three.  I am part of these teams to keep connected with the sellers that matter to me.  Most are Christian teams, some are secular and are affiliated with the things I want to sell :: food, digital products, and other things.  When I post new listings, I have been looking for the best threads at these teams to share in, and then the next time I post, I go to my own forum threads page and use it to post the next listing.  This saves me time, but every so often I have to go back to each team and check on the threads available --  to make sure I still have the best threads to post in.

At a personal level, I have created two forum threads in Chit I can share things that are important to me and discover who in Etsy is antagonistic to Christians.  It amazes me what happens as I go about my personal activities just to earn my own income.  I have started to post these entries with my Facebook pages as well.  I am trying to decide if I should post them in one or more of my blogs.  This is my outreach, my effort to network and find people that matter to me and my life and work.  Eventually, I want to start a team for Christians at Etsy.

There is still a lot to learn, and every day I look for more things to help me support myself into my senior years.  It is slowly beginning to form a process, an ongoing way to do all that has to be done, and to show me what can be let go, what needs to have more attention, and where it can lead.

I hope you are learning all the details you need to know to achieve your goals.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday, 12 FEB 2016 :: Teaching your kids about money

I recently ordered one of the Dave Ramsey's kits for teaching your children about handling money.  I wanted to read the instruction book and decide if I should keep it as a reference, give it as a gift, or donate it to the local women and children's mission... for reading by the residents.  I want to share my exploration with you.

I didn't learn a lot about handling money while I was growing up.  As a parent with 2 or 3 children, living on Welfare and food stamps forced me to learn a lot of things on my own.  It has caused me to search for ways to do even better, and to find resources to share with others so they won't have to suffer as much.  One of the newest money guides I have heard about is Dave Ramsey and the Financial Peace University program.  It is often presented to church groups and is based on separating your income into spending categories.  Carli Fiorini mentioned as "zero budget" in one of the Republican debates.  The Ramsey program is based on a zero budget, where every dollar is committed to something and has to be spent on that thing... you can't "borrow" from Peter to pay Paul in a zero budget, you do without until you have another paycheck to distribute to your envelope budget.

Dave Ramsey isn't the first to teach about money using the "envelope" system, but he has been the Christian financial guru for several years now.  In secular circles, Suze Orman is a teacher of all things financial.  These are just a two names you might recognize... I am sure there are others, and someone new is rising to the top as we speak.  It seems each generation has to find their own mentors, for everything.

Someday I might order the adult version, but it is in the $100+ range, depending on whether there is a sale, if you are in a group and get a discount, or some other variable.  I did notice that a lot of the Ramsey program options are heading toward internet access and repeat payments for ongoing access, like the rest of internet providers.  You can find out more information about the adult money system at  or  and other links from these two sites.  YouTube has videos to watch under the search term "Dave Ramsey" and possibly "Financial Peace University."

This blog is about and money.

One thing I liked about the Parent's Guide in the Junior edition was the "Ages and Stages" sections.  These appeared in several of the topic areas ::  Working, Spending, Saving, Giving.  Ages and Stages sections had short descriptions of what different aged children could reasonably be expected to do for chores and other related topics.  The Parent's Guide focused on ages 3-5, 6-8, and 9-13.  (In other materials related to the Junior Financial Peace program, available online at, I noticed the age ranges were 3-5, 6-13, and 14+)

One of the great ideas in the kit, for me, was the clear plastic zippered bags that looked like pencil cases you would buy in school supplies, but were the size of paper money. They were labeled with the three main spending categories for kids : GIVE, SAVE, SPEND.  Dave Ramsey feels the clear bags are good for kids to see their money "grow" as they save it.  I think it might be better not to see the actual money and be tempted or get robbed.  :-)  You and your child will have to decide which is the better option for your child.

The Parent's Guide didn't mention whether the clear "envelopes" are hidden or regulated by the parent in any way to keep temptation from becoming too much for the child to deal with.  I suppose it is part of the learning process to let the child suffer through NOT spending.  And the age of the child might make a difference in that decision, too. 

It was interesting to see the recommendation that a child in the 3-5 year range be given their payment for finishing one of their "chores" as soon as it is completed, while the older age groups moved up to a weekly and possibly monthly time frame.  (I don't remember clearly if there was a monthly payment structure, but there was a weekly.)  The size of the chore was also part of the payment size, with little ones gaining 50 cents for a chore so there could be more of them, and older children increasing the size of their responsibility with their age.  I had the thought that three envelopes might do better with three quarters as the payment... or three dimes.... or three nickels.

Saving money is the main cause for me... how to save, how to teach saving, how much to save, how to make it to the saving goal... the list can be long.  In my general quest for budgeting success, I have worked on a percentage basis, mostly because of the tithe percentage.  It seems the best idea.  How much to save changes according to the person you are following. 

Because the tithe is ten percent, it seemed logical to save ten percent... and some advisors recommend this amount.  Others add another ten percent to savings as a separate fund for retirement.  Whatever you decide, the remainder is what you live on.   Your children will be doing the same thing.  GIVING, which is the tithe. SAVING, which is for various things, like an emergency fund for their special needs during the year. And SPENDING, which is also a varied category depending on the age of the child.

One effect of bringing your children into the Dave Ramsey process is that the whole family is achieving their goals together, and kids begin to understand why parents can't buy them something every time they go to the store together.  That would be nice.

Parents are suppose to buy one kit per child because of the envelopes and the chore chart.  I would suggest buying one and deciding if you need to do that.  When I had my kids, living at a welfare and food stamp level, I couldn't seem to find $25 to save each month.  You may be able to create your own accessories for the system.  Chalkboard paint on a wall or the frig can become the chore chart, pencil bags or Kraft mailers can be your envelope system.  It might be worth spending the money to let each child have their own kit.  You can make it a Christmas gift and start the new year with a goal.  Your family will have to decide.

Money is the big deal for all of us, including crafters.  The desire to earn more money may motivate your children to join you in making and selling crafts when they learn the Ramsey program for kids.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Thursday, 4 FEB 2016 :: What to do FIRST !!

I have been reading "success" materials for too many years...and listening to audio presentations... and watching video presentations... etc.  The same themes run through all of them because the same details are needed for achieving your goals.  The presenters are the difference, and the times they are created in.  When I first became aware of this kind of information, I think it was Nightingale-Conant that was the main player (and is still available online  :-).  Then I think I discovered Zig Ziglar (also still available online).  I think Brian Tracy was the last one I knew about (also still available online).  I don't know who the guru is for this generation... it may depend on the topic.  PBS has its own version of guru, Christians have Focus on the Family, Crown Ministries, Dave Ramsey, and others.  You have to listen to the presentations with their theologies in mind, because what we believe affects how we say thing, what we share as truth, and the results we are looking for.

Today I am sharing something by Brian Tracy that I found through a YouTube video review of "Eat That Frog" -- which is a book about ending our procrastinating, I am told.  I was impressed by the reviewers comment that the audio version of this book is a repeat activity... that he wanted to listen to is once a year to see how he evolved in his process and what would rise to the top each year.

The main focus of this book is the A-B-C-D-E method of setting your priorities.  Brian Tracy shared it this way in a printout I have from somewhere...possibly linked to this page :: ).

  • A stands for VERY IMPORTANT - something you must do.  There can be serious negative consequences if you don't do it.
  • B stands for IMPORTANT - something you should do.  This is not as important as your A tasks.  There are only minor negative consequences if it is not completed.
  • C stands for NICE TO DO - but not as important as A and B tasks.  There are no negative consequences for not completing it.
  • D stands for DELEGATE - you can assign this task to someone else who can do the job instead of you.
  • E stands for ELIMINATE - whenever possible, you should eliminate every single activity you possibly can, to free up your time.

The key to life is how we spend our TIME !!  It is the only resource none of us can increase... we all have the same 24-hours to spend, and how we spend them creates our life.

Another theme of Brian Tracy's writings is the idea of focusing on one thing until it is done, then moving on to the next thing.  I liked the way he put it in this statement ::

Once you can clearly determine the one or two things that you should be doing, above all others, just say no to all diversions and distraction and focus single-mindedly on accomplishing those priorities.

It is really hard for me to not be distracted by all the little things that need to get done...  sometimes just clearing my desk space is required to THINK about getting anything done.  I have this habit of creating "piles" that have to be sorted later, and then I get distracted by the things I am going through in my piles.  :-)  It is a problem I keep hoping a larger living space will solve.

The pages I printed from the internet have 3 ACTION STEPS from Brian Tracy that I wanted to share with you, too.  They might put your efforts into a clearer order.  I hope so.

  • First, take the time to be clear about your goals and objectives so that the priorities you set are moving you in the direction of something that is of real value to you.
  • Second, remember that what counts is not the amount of time that you put in overall; rather, it's the amount of time that you spend working on high-priority tasks.
  • Third, understand that the most important factor in setting priorities is you ability to make wise choices.  You are always free to choose to engage in one activity or another.

Deciding what your goals are helps you to find the way through all your choices.  If FAMILY is your goal, the choices you make will be different than if your goal is MONEY... and there will be limits to some of your choices.

You can't have everything,
decide what matters most to you.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Wednesday, 3 FEB 2016 :: Photo tips

I was sorting through some of my many "piles" of papers last weekend and came across a page from eBay about creating good photos.  I thought I would share it with you.  It was a PDF I think, and I can't find a web reference on the page, but the title appears to be "Top Tips for Great Photos."  A search at eBay should bring up something...  I hope.  :-)  I seem to have discovered the information on the 5th of November in 2015.

Anyway, here is a list of the points on my reference page.  It is better to see the photos that go with them, but that is beyond my skill at this point in time.

Elements of a great listing photo.
  • Use a plain uncluttered backdrop to draw attention to your item.
  • Turn off the flash.  Use diffused lighting to prevent shadows and reflections.
  • Use a tripod to prevent softness and blur.
  • Capture high-resolution pictures.
  • Fill the frame with the item.
  • Capture all angles, details, and blemishes.
  • Show the scale.
  • Keep your photos from tinting.
  • Capture detailed close-up shots.
  • Avoid using props.
  • Optimize the quality of cell phone camera photos.
  • Use eBay picture hosting to optimize your listing for mobile buyers.

There are differences between selling sites, so it is important to notice that this information is focused toward sellers at eBay, which include used items.  Etsy would have VINTAGE items that might be the same category.  I am referring to the suggestion to capture all the blemishes in your listing photos so as not to deceive the buyer.

I think another important photo tip is the suggestion to show the scale of your item.  As I look at more and more photos while I browse Etsy, I am finding it harder to know the size of an item being offered.  Photos can be enlarged, reduced, and doctored in many ways... for buyers to trust you and buy from you, they need all the little details that matter.  Scale is one of them.  I think jewelry is where I notice this most.  Art could be another product that is easily deceptive.

I think it was this PDF that taught me about turning the flash off.  I tried it and was AMAZED at the difference... and is the reason I had to buy a new camera with that function.

Another tidbit I learned with this resource was the effects of lighting... that different light bulbs cause tints in the photos... yellow and blue tints... and why "natural light" is so important to your photos.  (I am working to find the best place to take photos in my environment.)

I hope this helps you to create better photos for your listing items.  There is so much to learn.  I will try to share my process of learning with you so we can all become great together.  :-)