On Etsy : The 2014 Experience Part 2

December 17, 2014

It’s been seven days since I posted part one about the experience of Etsy in 2014. I am floored by the response, honestly. Thank you everyone for sharing and commenting or following up via Twitter or Instagram or email. I really am sad to hear it is as widespread as I thought.

In review.

The thing that stood out to me most over the past week of reading through comments and discussing this all with people is that everyone thought it was just them.

I know for some people, going into the Etsy forums is like the number one thing you never want to do, and that is understandable. I’ve never spent much time there, I pop in now and then to check the announcements or see if anything new is happening (because that is where admin will post) and when things are wonky, i’ll check in there to see if anyone else has reported a bug or concern. Over the past month I have been checking in on this one thread that I linked to last week. Still no response from admin, but a lot of well established sellers continue to check in. All of this is to say: I was SURE it was not just you, or me. But I am still surprised that so very many people seem to be having an issue … that started in September.

For what it’s worth: Clarity

I want to clarify a few things right off the bat before I get into the second part of the discussion.

First, I am not criticizing Etsy for changing or for being a business that wants to make money. I was very clear in my first post that they have every right to do as they wish with the functionality and design of their site. I am, however, criticizing the changes they made. Change away, but please be mindful of the response – verbal or otherwise – to those changes, and consider the feedback. That’s really all I can ask. In the past, Etsy has taken certain things sellers weren’t happy about into consideration. The front page was one of those things. (What’s that saying? If we all threw our problems into a pile, we would fight to get ours back? Oy.)

Second, I wrote my first post as a voice. I wanted to be a voice for the many people I KNEW were feeling the changes. 

Next, my personal FEELINGS about Etsy or their practices or design – they do not matter. What matters is numbers and figures and anecdotes. The truth is that a large number of sellers saw a downturn in their sales since September. This is more than your usual newbies saying things are slow. This is more than seasonal slump. (Also, certainly not THIS season. Hello, Santa.)

Finally, the truth is this is a serious love/hate relationship. I’m okay with admitting that. I think we have all felt that. I LOVE what Etsy has done for me in the past, I LOVE some of the people I’ve met who work there, I LOVE people i’ve met because of Etsy. and I LOVE to shop Etsy. I just feel challenged by it more than I ever have before – challenged to find what I want, challenged to  understand, challenged to keep up with the changes, and challenged to stick to my own moral code. All I know for sure is what I’ve known all along – Etsy is not the be all, end all, it is an element – but I am still discovering how to keep it a viable element without pulling all my hair out. It might never happen. Who knows? I like to ride the waves, I like to try new things. That’s my $00.02.

Alright, let’s get into it.

Why you should care about the FP even if you were never featured on the old one.

In 2011/12 I was featured on the front page a lot. A couple times a day sometimes. I am sure that bothered some people. I understand that. It was a game and I played it. I liked to play it! I was on a number of treasury teams and I enjoyed making treasuries and I discovered a lot of new and fabulous things (and PEOPLE) this way. I will agree that the old FP was not perfect. But It was very pretty most of the time, people loved to comment on it and discuss it, it was cohesive and well organized, and most importantly it was easy to navigate. In 2013, I was not on the front page that often, maybe 5 times total. And I still did well… so I while it was nice to be on the front page, it wasn’t something I relied on and it certainly wasn’t the only thing that worked for making sales or getting found.

(It is worth considering that the idea of treasury teams evolved from the current state of things on Etsy at that time and it’s possible that other great things will evolve from the current state of things now too. The only difference is that now, people feel deflated rather than empowered. We can get it back though.)

I know that some people think that because the old front page didn’t feature them often or ever  that it simply doesn’t serve them either way – good or bad. They weren’t featured there before so why should they care if the opportunity is no longer there? They don’t mind the new front page themselves or just don’t use it that often, so what does it matter?

Because user experience still has a bearing on your shop.

EVEN IF I personally LOVED the new FP, I still have to consider the fact that many users simply do not. If you are a shop that gets views/ sales from search or browse, the front page should be something you care about. The general experience users have on the site that hosts your shop should matter to you. The facts are that a lot of folks – buyers and sellers – dislike the FP enough to say so.

If you make nearly all of your views and sales from traffic you drive yourself without any help from Etsy, then maybe you don’t need to care about the FP as much. But I am willing to bet that in the past year, you had traffic from browse and search.

But consider the fact that the customer who comes to Etsy to browse and search  - who might have normally (in old front page times) - might not find it as intuitive or welcoming as they did before. Which is what I keep hearing.

You might be thinking ‘why does search matter? it’s pretty easy to find the search bar on the new fp’ yes, true, it is. But consider what people are saying about the front page : “it’s jumbled” “there is no cohesion” “I simply can’t find what I am looking for” … People might not want to spend time on the site if they don’t like the way it looks. It’s really not that unreasonable.

(I am not much for conspiracy or any other sort of theory when it comes to stuff like this but it has been suggested in a couple places that 1- there is a rolling practice happening in search. Meaning, if you are in Guam and I am in NYC and we search the same thing, we might get different results. OR we will see the same thing but then tomorrow, we see totally different things mutually. And 2- maybe search just acts a fool so you feel inclined to try promoted listings. I have no opinion on this, just putting it out there. It COULD explain why there are no longer any patterns in shop stats.)

It was brought to my attention that many ecomm sites show you recently viewed or bookmarked items on your front page – and it’s true that many sites personalize the page you see when logged in – similar to Amazon. Fair enough. And the truth is, the content of the Etsy FP isn’t the biggest issue, IMO, it’s the layout that needs some work.

I think the main difference is that Amazon shows me suggestions based on my history or bookmarks – and site-wide popular items in categories I have shopped before (or not) Etsy shows me things I already know I like (favorites) and other people’s favorites. I can click to see “trending” or a breakout category, but I don’t see any product imagery for those the way I do on amazon. It’s also worth considering these are two totally different sites with different audiences.

You started following people for a variety of reasons.

When it first became a thing to “follow” (or “add to circle” as it was called originally) there was a separate activity feed where you would see the things people in your circle liked or treasuries they created. If you didn’t want to see them / didn’t want to shop that way, you just didn’t look there. So at that time, users would follow each other because they were teammates or friends or Etsy acquaintances. Not primarily because they had the same style or taste. But now, your FP experience pretty much rests on the activity of those people. Yes, you can go ahead and unfollow people and find new folks to follow.

:) If you are a buyer only, maybe it is worth your time. But as a seller I have bigger things to worry about than recreating my feed.  

It’s NOT SEO. Nor is it because you aren’t involved with Promoted Listings.

Everyone could stand to improve their SEO, or photos, or descriptions, or whatever. No matter what – busy times, slow times – doesn’t really matter, there is always room – SOMEWHERE- to improve. The issue is that even sellers with stellar SEO and great photos and beautiful branding and strong presence in social media are still scratching their heads.

Because it’s NOT entirely those things that. It is really not a coincidence that all these “best practices” that Etsy still maintains are the current best practices suddenly stopped working for huge numbers of sellers at the same time.

It is very discouraging – I feel that. I know we are all frustrated.

I know SEO is confusing and can feel super intimidating. But It still works. Before I put my shop on Vacation Mode, many of my listings were ranking well in popular searches ( I think I mentioned this in the other post – the numbers just aren’t there. It’s possible that site-wide traffic is just down) so I know my SEO is working in that way. YES it could stand to be improved as I said. But I know it’s alive and breathing. I see people asking the same things about SEO all the time so I put together a little guide to go over the basics here in the coming weeks. I figure I won’t post it next week because everyone will be busy eating cookies and lasagna and hanging with their people, so after that, I will post it.

As I said in my other post, I haven’t participated in promoted listings, so I can’t say from experience, but I did do some reading about them and it seems most people aren’t happy with them or are spending a lot and not making a strong return.  I have seen some people saying they were happy with their results – and they posted their numbers – and they are not numbers I personally would be happy with, but of course this changes for everyone. I don’t have much more to add to it since i don’t have any experience here.

Etsy evolves. We can too.

When I was in college, I would go to some of the big craft fairs -Renegade et all – and I was that annoying person who collects business cards. No one had their own website. Everyone was on Etsy. And these two things really just went together. It was like, of course you are on Etsy! Even when I started doing those shows 4-5 years later, most people primarily were on Etsy. By the time I was on my 4th order of business cards, I had my own website printed on them though. People would pick it up and say “are you on etsy though?” and I was so I would say yes. That’s what people expected. Often times people would opt to shop on Etsy  - there could be a variety of reasons for that. And they are valid and they are part of the reason I’ll keep a presence on Etsy.

Over the past few years, viable options for creating your own site have come about and that is definitely part of the reason many artisans have their own sites now. Places like Shopify have made it easy and relatively quick to get a storefront up and running. Especially if you have an established product and brand.

Moving forward, Etsy is a tool.

Twitter is a tool, Instagram is a tool. Etsy is a tool too – a pretty decent one honestly. We would be foolish to not see the great things about Etsy. But we would be equally foolish to not see the full picture.

Use it the best you can. Learn what you can about it. Leverage it. Make it work for you. Here is great article about the realities of your “Etsy Business”. It is not the scare you, it is to educate you and help you see the big picture. Please value yourself, your work and your customers enough to know the possibilities at the very least.

I invite you to chime in again, email me if you would like danielle@merriweathercouncil.com, leave a comment here or find me on twitter or Instagram.

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On Etsy : The 2014 Experience part 1

December 10, 2014

This is a huge topic – so this is part 1. The more I discuss it with people, the most I think needs to be added. So please bear in mind that this is a preliminary run down. There is room for more thought and fact here.

I would also like to say that I don’t HATE Etsy. I think Etsy has pros and cons and those pros and cons change depending on what you are selling and at what point you are at in your business. They have made a lot of very positive changes over the years I’ve been there and Etsy is basically the reason I’ve been able to do what I do for the past four years. They’ve added an on site credit card processor, made it possible to list large quantities without paying upfront for listings, hold in person events that bring their community members together and made it possible to print shipping labels for your orders. All of these are great additions. There are plenty of others.

It might be worth reminding you that I had a crazy year in my personal life, and I know the impacted my work to some extent. But I also know that I worked hard through out the year and maintained the same level of attention and interest in my Etsy shop. At the end of the year, I began to really focus on driving traffic to my site – but I maintained my Etsy practices as well.

But with the good there is some not-as-good. And it’s no surprise to anyone that Etsy isn’t perfect.

Frustration

On friday evening, I began tweeting about some of the issues I have either been experiencing or have witnessed happening in relation to Etsy and Etsy sellers. Most of it was not positive. My rant – as I’m okay with calling it – was brought on by a comment I saw (not the first) about how Etsy sellers are basically just sitting around complaining, not bettering their situations, and blaming everything that is wrong with their lives on Etsy.

I cannot believe how small minded some of these remarks that I keep seeing are.

People are “complaining”, I suppose. I prefer to call it “voicing valid concerns.”

Two distinct things happened on Etsy in the late summer/ early fall – seems these two things, in addition to some preexisting elements, really brought about this buzz of unhappiness amongst a great number of sellers.

Changes

Here is what changed:

1. the design of the front page changed – drastically.

2. some not-full-explained changes happened to the search algorithm and (I think these were put in place to fully support) the new “ad” listings – a paid promotional opportunity within etsy.

These changes caused problems for many of the sellers I know – and there are quite a few people making their displeasure known on the forums.  Are you one of the sellers feeling less than thrilled with these changes?

Etsy admin themselves even acknowledged that sales were slow and views were down. For them to do this said to me that it could actually be a bigger deal than I originally thought.

Seeing the bigger picture

I’ve heard a number of truly unreasonable – and honestly disrespectful – things said about the sentiments of sellers who are making it known they are not happy with the changes or their subsequent consequences.  

I would like to address those remarks that I feel are small minded and unreasonable – because clearing these misconceptions up will help foster a civil discussion about the issue, which I would like to do. Because if we are going to talk about this, we can’t have these remarks coming up over and over anymore. They aren’t helpful.

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” – really? In theory this is a valid concept. Diversify, sell in multiple places, etc. But does this really serve or add anything to the conversation at the moment? Most people have one job or are employed by one entity. Do we scold these people for putting all their eggs in one basket if they get laid off? No. Holy crap, no! We wouldn’t dream of it. (Can you imagine?! ‘oh you thought having one job was safe? ha!’) So why do we scold etsy sellers – who have doe well and had a reliable and consistent income from their shops there -when they express a concern about changes that impact their income? I just don’t think this is an okay argument. Even if you are diversifying, it is very natural – and almost essential to a certain extent – that you put more effort into the place the brings you the most return. Which makes it hard to diversify to the point of establishing another equally viable revenue stream. Some people have done it, but it’s not easy.  I know for me, it has been hard to focus my plans elsewhere because my shop was so busy, and I am one person, and I can’t do everything, so I tended to stick with what was working. So please, stop saying this – it is not reasonable.

Next thing I keep hearing is “Etsy is a business / not a democracy.” When people say this, do they really think they are educating others? Everyone knows that Etsy is a business. Their business is to provide a marketplace of vintage, craft supplies and handmade items. I don’t expect Etsy to be perfect, I don’t expect it to stay the same forever, and I don’t expect that just having my items listed there will mean they sell like crazy. I do, however, expect an honest, human-answered, straightforward, timely response to a public outcry – or, to a personal email. Meanwhile, this thread - started by Etsy admin – has gone over a month with no response.

“It’s not up to Etsy to make you money / Etsy is just a platform.” Certainly. But we could argue that it IS up to etsy to provide you with what you pay for which is a marketplace free of resellers. It’s a hot topic – or in some cases, a blurry line. In other cases, it’s not blurry at all. But there is no denying that Etsy actively maintains that they are just as against resellers as the rest of us. This is a dead horse already, but it is worth noting. The issue I think is that what many of us consider to be authentically and responsibly handmade is not necessarily fully in line with Etsy’s definition of handmade, which seems to keep expanding to encompass many types of products and businesses. But if a product is truly just being resold in massive quantities, in theory, we are all in agreement that that should not exist on etsy. Opinions of how well this is being reinforced are varied. The reason this is an issue is – as far as I can tell – twofold. One, the more reseller-y type products on etsy, they more degraded the original concept and expectation set up by Etsy over the years becomes. And two, true resellers have massive amounts of product on hand – they can up their quantities, fill orders quickly, tend to have professional photos, list tons of items, can sell cheaper than a handmade item, etc – all of this makes less space for the genuine handmade products. Please keep this thought in mind as I move to my next point about the recent changes to search.

“No one is forcing you to stay here. / If you don’t like it leave.” I have to admit, in the past, i’ve had this exact thought. If you are truly unhappy and dislike nearly everything about a place, don’t stay. But it’s not very helpful to say that. People know they aren’t being held hostage on  but there is a lot that goes along with closing your shop entirely. If you have invested a decent amount of time building an audience, or creating listings, making connections, etc – it is difficult to just abandon that. Likewise, bearing in mind that we don’t know everyone’s skill level or available capital, it’s not really our place to suggest that someone else just go ahead and move to another platform. There is a whole lot of learning that goes into making your shop on etsy work, and when you go full time with it, it’s no small investment of time or energy. Just imagine having to forget all of that and start over. It’s intimidating. Not to mention, if you have any shred of optimism, you’ll keep giving it more time. Additionally, you’ve probably got a decent amount of money invested. Some of the benefits of Etsy are that they foster a community, you can save your favorites, shop multiple vendors in one go and they bring in a ton of traffic – things that would be hard to replicate on your own. So please, know that people understand they don’t HAVE to stay-  and have probably considered moving on – but it’s not as easy as it sounds when you have years of history, back links, customers, connections and know-how wrapped up specifically in Etsy.

Hard work, expectations, responsibility

Now, to this end, since we all agree we do not expect to magically begin making crazy amounts of money just by listing an item, most of the sellers I know are very active in bettering their shops on all levels. From photography to seo to customer service, I know most folks are actively working on their shops so they might garner more attention, views, links and sales. It is frustrating when you work on something for months or a year and then the standard changes. Example of this would be retaking all your photos to work with a listing layout that favors horizontal orientation just to have the listing format or browse page be changed to favor a vertical image. (This is an example, I seem to remember something like this happening a year or so ago, but again, just an example to give you a sense of what I mean.)

The new front page

I also expect Etsy to have a cohesive and intuitive front page. They always have, until recently. At this point, I believe Etsy does not. The fact is that everyone sees different content on their homepage.  I see a couple of key flaws with the current design of the elements that are the same for us all though. First thing that makes no sense to me is that when you “follow” someone on Etsy, you only see items they’ve favorited, lists/ treasuries they’ve created, and when they’ve followed another user. So if you “follow” my shop, you don’t see anything like new work from me. The expatiation that accompanies the word “follow” (as we are used to with instagram and twitter) simply just doesn’t apply to Etsy. In fact, only if you FAVORITE the shop (not the same as following) do you stand a chance of seeing their newly listed (or relisted) items in 1 of 6 small squares in a short row at the top of your unique front page. Above that – another thing that makes no sense to me about the new design – you see the 6 items you most recently favorited. Why? You already saw and saved these items to your favorites, why are they also here in valuable front page space? You can easily access these links again in your dedicated favorites area. You also see items you’ve favorited in your front page feed. (There are positives if you consider that if you have many followers on Etsy, any items you favorite will gain good exposure because they will show up in the feeds of your followers. Not sure how that actually helps you as a seller to sell your items, but yes, that’s some nice karma for you I suppose. Karma doesn’t pay the bills but…) Some have argued this is really no different than Pinterest, but Pinterest is for collecting and etsy is for shopping. The final thing that really irks me about the new design is that the categories are basically all hidden. The third thing about the new design that is super user-unfriendly is that most of the categories are “hidden”.  Take a look

ETSYFRONTPAGE

 

So this page sort of gives me the impression that they want me to go and search, rather than browse categories AND shop “socially” based on my feed. It’s not super cohesive and by hiding the categories, it makes the experience a bit more confusing for the average user. How do I know this? Because once this came into play, my friends started texting me asking how to find things on Etsy. These are young, internet savvy friends of mine. They are very familiar with online shopping.

Since this page really seems to support a search rather than category browse shopping experience, it comes to mind that you better be on your search ranking game as a seller.

Search + getting found

I decided a long time ago that it really doesn’t make sense to pay to advertise an Etsy shop off-Etsy. I haven’t really done any paid promotion within Etsy, so I can’t speak from experience there. But if I am going to pay for advertising on a blog, for example, I’m sure as hell not going to send that traffic to Etsy. There are like, 50 million ways a person can click right on out of your shop on Etsy. Your much better off directing traffic to your own domain. Free promotion like Pinterest suits me better for promoting Etsy. So this is why I tend to focus more on appearing in search. This has always been my game plan and approach to Etsy.

The changes that were made to search recently are not completely clear to me, I don’t think there has been a definitive run down of the changes or what exactly for sure goes into the algorithm regarding an item as relevant.

Relevancy + stats

You want your items to be as “relevant” in a search as possible because that’s what gets them showing up closer to the first page of search results for any term you might be optimizing for.

(EDIT: there are lots of factors that go into relevancy ranking that we have no control over, I don’t know for sure but I think any of the following could impact relevancy: number of sales on a listing, number of views, number of hearts, using all 5 images, back links, possibly even shop history. Just a guess)

At the end of the summer, I saw some of my strongest listings – that would often show up within the first 5-6 pages of a search- fall into obscurity overnight. Literally, one day they were there on page three, next day, nowhere within the first 30 pages. I have to think that’s not just a ME thing. This indicates to me that a change had taken place in the algorithm – and it did.

Another indicator to me that these changes were not playing in favor of my shop at least : there were no discernible  patterns in my shop stats anymore. From day to day the top keywords would change. If on a wednesday my top keyword phrase was “initial necklace” – on thursday, it was not even in the top six. I have always been very aware of my shop stats, so I noticed this immediately. Another thing I noticed was that I would get lots of hearts on items that had sold a long time ago.  I let it rest for a while to see how the “testing” would play out, but by the end of October I was really starting to get annoyed with the lack of consistency.

Oddly enough, at this time I was asked by Etsy admin to write a post for their Holiday Bootcamp about shop stats, keywords and the like – and how to bring all that together and understand it as the holidays approached. I was surprised by this because i really didn’t think I was “doing it right” anymore at that point. Even though I thought her invite was enough validation that I must have some clue what I was doing, I asked the admin who invited me directly – because I would not want to advise any other seller on something if I had it all backwards. She assured me I was doing everything “perfectly” in terms of keywords and such. I felt better, but I was more confused than ever. If it was something I was doing wrong, I could fix it!

Tweaking + tightening

I dove in and got my research on. I read and reread a lot about SEO within Etsy and made a bunch of changes that were basically just expansions on the things I already had in place. Meaning, I didn’t take on a whole new approach, I just tweaked and tightened up some things. And I did see some improvement after that. But it’s my personal opinion that overall traffic was down on the site – maybe because the new front page doesn’t draw in as much browsing as the old one? Maybe it’s more granular? Maybe people suddenly just don’t like my stuff? I’m not sure.

This is a huge topic, and I know it’s worth discussing because across the board my numbers are down. And I know for a fact that other people’s numbers are down.

Moving forward + the solution

I am very happy to acknowledge that Etsy has every right to change their ways and formats and do as they’d like. But I am also entitled to my opinion on those changes. And I also think that if those changes are negatively impacting me – or anyone else – we are allowed to be upset about it. Think of it as leasing a car. If your normally very reliable Honda that you count on to get your to and from work, suddenly stopped running you would be annoyed. You would take it to the dealership and you would expect them to have some answers about what was wrong/ how to fix it. You would be frustrated that this thing you are paying for, and have no just-as-good back up for – you would be annoyed. You know you would be. So please be respectful when discussing this issue with other sellers.

The solution to this will be different for me than it is for you or someone else. I like having a presence on Etsy. I also enjoy the freedom I get by selling on my own site. There are plenty of ways to approach the next steps. My shop is currently on vacation while I take some time to gather my thoughts for the new year and finishing up my open orders. I fully intend on reopening my shop after the holidays, but my focus will be on my site and on some new projects I am working on.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with Etsy this year!

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Black Friday – Small Business Saturday – Cyber Monday

November 28, 2014

Lots of great stuff happening on merriweathercouncil.com this weekend! Sale pricing will be available through monday. Here are all the details:

black friday / cyber monday | The Merriweather Council Blog

Ready to ship hoops are marked down as much as 50%!! Gotta make space so come and take a look!

The thread drawing pendant necklace collection is live and price reduced for the weekend at $40 – a  $10 discount!

Initial necklaces are 30% off! These make great gifts for ladies of all ages. They are totally customizable and fun to shop for and fun to give.

Be sure to browse gifts under $50 for easy shopping too.

Finally, there is free domestic shipping! No minimum order and no codes needed. Everything is price reduced already and all you have to do is shop.

Shop now!

Email me if any issues or questions! Danielle@merriweathercouncil.com

Happy weekend!!

Danielle

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Welcome Back, Friends – I’m Starting the Next Chapter

November 25, 2014

Oh I am so happy to have you back here! Thanks for being patient while I worked on some back end sprucing and such. Let’s catch up a bit.

What a crazy crazy year it has been – mostly in good ways, but in some strange ways too.

I’ve made a few decisions about the future of Merriweather that I would like to share with you. To make it manageable, I’ll cover part now and part in another post.

Start the Next Chapter |The Merriweather Council Blog

First, I have decided to focus more effort here in the coming year and I want you to be informed about what to expect.

Over this past year, I’ve struggled a lot with my business  - and with myself. Almost like I was my own biggest obstacle. There was so much changing in our life – and I was forced to change a lot of things about the way I do business and the way I organize my time. With our move to Virginia and Husband’s new job as Ensign in the United States Navy, some of the most basic things about day to day life got switched up and I felt like I had to keep things in business as much the same as possible amidst the chaos. Mostly for sanity’s sake.

Once we got settled and I got into the groove of our new surroundings, I began to see that keeping things the same was actually making me tired. And a little bit bored, honestly. 

I’ve been doing this work for four and half years. I have never once put my shop on “vacation mode” – not even when we got married. I haven’t taken any time off really at all since I graduated college in May 2010. I took my work with my everywhere. I thought it was way cool at first – look at my portable job, look how great it is I can pack up and bring it with me. Now, I do not feel the need or want to ALWAYS have my work with me. In fact, I find that idea to be a bit … strange.

This has all been a long time coming. And because I was my own biggest obstacle, I put off changing things.

I realize now that keeping things the same, means losing ground – and inspiration. I guess that with everything else changing, it became glaringly obvious of all that I could be doing, but wasn’t.

So I’m changing it, FINALLY. I am capable of doing more than what I’m doing now – but not within the structure I’ve established. So in order to make room for the things I want to do more of, I have to do less of other things. More on this later though.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I’ve shared some insights and tips and help along the way as it pertains to micro/ crafty business. And I have always really enjoyed doing that – and that’s what I’m going to get back to doing. Additionally, I have discovered that my real true interest is not necessarily embroidery – though I do love embroidery – on a grander scale, my vision ultimately revolves around the idea of living a creative life and encouraging others to do the same.

For me, a creative life means finding time to doodle, write, cook, and enjoy time with my friends and family – and making a job for myself. It means living life with an emphasis on trying new things, making messes, experimenting with materials and encouraging others to tap into their unique and invaluable creativity. For me, it’s creative life, happy life. I’m happiest when I feel creative and inspired. You might have your own interpretation of this, and I welcome that!

My creativity has always carried me through – I relied on it through school and I leveraged it in college – and then I used it to make money for the past four years. Projects and creative endeavors have motivated me and pulled me out of a number of emotional funks.

I want Merriweather Council to evolve into a place of inspiration – both for makers-in-business and creatives in general. My goal for 2015 is to share inspiration and instruction and discussion for bringing creativity into everyday life. I’ve learned SO much in the past four years both in and out of business and I owe it to myself to evolve from that. And I want to share my experiences with those of you who have similar ambitions.

For those of you selling your creative work online, there will be tips and resources to help you in that, and for those of you just wanting to bring some creativity into your every day, there will be projects and stories and inspiration for you as well. And for everyone else, maybe you’ll just like to watch and see what happens.

We’ll work on finding opportunities for creativity every day, making time to create, building up confidence in our work, getting ideas from head to paper to action and overcoming creativity blockers. We’ll celebrate the creative works of others and the creativity we encounter and we will work on getting your creations out into the world and selling it – if that’s something you want to do.

It boils down to blogging and making in pursuit and support of creative lifestyles – supporting yours, living mine, and writing about it. That’s the vision + mission.

I’m so excited to really kick this whole thing off in the new year! In the meantime, preview the categories I’ve organized all existing content into on the sidebar under “subjects”.

This whole “creative lifestyle” is a big topic and I have lots of ideas – and there is lots of time to explore them, but I would LOVE to hear from you too. If there is something you’d like to ask or would like to hear my insights about, please let me know. Additionally, I’d like to bring in some guest posts, so if you’d be interested in that give me a ring <err, email? DM? a tweet, perhaps?> and we can discuss bringing your unique point of view here. Seriously, don’t be shy.

To stay up to date on things, join my mailing list, subscribe to posts by email (see sidebar) or bookmark this page.  I’m so excited to share new things with you!

Have a wonderful thanksgiving and we’ll catch up again real soon!

Oh and if you are in the mood to do some shopping, swing by the shop on thursday night – and through the weekend – for some exclusive product releases and sale pricing throughout the store. Basically everything except made to order hoops will be on sale. YEAHHH. Hop on my mailing list to get an email with all the details.

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