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Spotlight on Constant Creatives: Lexy Olivia

This is the second installment of Spotlight on Constant Creatives and I am ecstatic to introduce on the blog today my best friend, my inspiration, my constant encourager and supportive partner in the creative world Lexy Olivia! I don’t even know where to start with this amazing human, which is why I know her interview will stand for itself. She is so intelligent, kind, one of the most selfless people I know, a great storyteller, and an incredible artist. If I had to name a friend who gets what it’s like to be a constant creative, to be an entrepreneur, to travel down that road of having a fiery passion for something, it would be Lexy. From meeting in high school to navigating the creative and business worlds together, she just GETS IT! Scroll to the bottom and let me know your favorite part of the interview by leaving a comment!

Lexy Olivia interview

Can you tell everyone about who you are? Let’s hear about your creative business and passions!

Hey everyone! My name is Lexy and I’m the constant creator behind my brand Lexy Olivia.I chose my namesake as my brand because I wanted it to evolve with me as I grow and expand into new endeavors. Currently, I make watercolor book inspired prints for a really unique niche on Instagram called Bookstagram. I’m currently deeply invested in this loyal community and have an amazing group of followers who are incredibly supportive! I’m super passionate about growing my skills and evolving my business. Beyond that, you’ll always catch me outside! Summiting mountains, running, rock climbing, jumping out of airplanes or off of cliffs, you name it I’m out there! Being surrounded by nature and living a rejuvenating and adventurous lifestyle is of the utmost importance to me; without it, there is no creative well for me to draw from!

Have you always considered yourself a creative?

Absolutely! I always knew I was born to create. At a very young age I had dreams of being an artist. I would fantasize about being an actress! Watching my dad draw and sketch my whole young life impressed upon me a great appreciation for art of all kinds.

What led you to take that leap into starting your own business?

It started out as a way for me to cope with my serious health issues. I had to quit my job after being sick for such a long time and the doctors didn’t know how to help me. I found myself living in a new state with no friends and no job and was starting to get seriously depressed. I went down to the art store one day and picked up a $7.99 paint set and began painting. I’d show friends and family my designs and they were all really enthusiastic, so I thought why not? At that point, I had nothing to lose. It truly evolved and unfolded beyond my wildest expectations.

What’s your favorite thing about having an unconventional 9-5 lifestyle?

Freedom is the greatest gift that this lifestyle provides. I’ll never stop being so thankful for those days when there’s a foot of fresh powder on ski slopes or I have the chance to travel the world and I can be flexible and nimble enough to take my work on the road.

Have you always known you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Yes! I’ve been running other people’s businesses since I was 16. I always had a keen eye for identifying problems and optimizing solutions. But of course, it wasn’t my business so I didn’t have full control over the outcomes. When I turned 21 I tried the corporate world on for size and it didn’t fit. Now I could never imagine working for someone else. Sometimes it feels so surreal I literally yell “I’M THE BOSS!” when I’m having a hard day to remind myself that I definitely got this. Being able to collect data to optimize your interactions, conversions and advertising strategies is so satisfying to me. I find the business aspect of my brand equally as gratifying as the pure artistry. 

Being an entrepreneur has its ups and downs. Can you name a moment of failure that you ultimately learned from?

I don’t necessarily believe in failure. There have been so many times that I’ve made choices and looked back and realized I could have done better. At the same time, when you run your own business you’re the only one who is in charge of everything. It is impossible to foresee certain obstacles so I try to be really gentle with myself. Despite my best efforts to think through each situation and consider every possible outcome, sometimes I drop the ball. Every time I face a challenge, I try to welcome it as growth and change and take notes on how to avoid similar situations in the future.

What’s been the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in your creative journey?

I can’t say that I’ve overcome it quite yet, but time management is often paralyzing to me. The flipside of having so much freedom is also having a total lack of structure. Creating structure for myself is vital but it’s a skill I haven’t quite cultivated.

How has your business evolved since you first started?

Wow, what an amazing question! I hardly take the time to sit and reflect. From starting out painting a smiling lemon and whale cards, to managing high-level business accounts, packing orders, crushing deadlines and maintaining a life, I’d say everything has changed! My level of responsibility is so much greater these days, but I’d never trade the thrill of a challenge to predictability.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own creative business or go after something they’re passionate about?

I’d say just dive in. I personally don’t believe that we’re here on this earth to hustle and grind so we can pay bills and live monotonously. I think we are here to realize our highest selves, love one another and do things that set our souls on fire. Fear is such a limiting factor in today’s world. I know we have a lot to lose; from friendships to job security to our homes. Maybe we fear judgement or whatever your limiting beliefs may be, know that you are worthy of the highest joys and success in life. Whatever that may look like to you, go after it.

I love that inspiration can come in so many shapes and sizes. Where, who, or what do you draw inspiration from?

I’d say YOU definitely inspire me! I try to surround myself with people who expand my parameters. I like to look at people who are doing radically different things in life. I think it can be dangerous to saturate your feed, whether it be digital or in real life, with people who are doing the same things as you. I love reading the New York Times every Sunday and reading through a Wired Magazine front to back. Technology, science, quantum theory, health and organic living are things that are constantly inspiring me. Assimilating the information I absorb back into my artwork is the challenging part.

What’s something you’ve focused on personally this year to better yourself or your business?

I’ve really shifted my focus to growing spiritually. I found that the lifestyle I created for myself was running me into the ground. I feel like that is such a learning curve for entrepreneurs. If I’m the only one who is directly in charge of how much income I make, shouldn’t I work as hard as possible for as long as possible? Wrong! You should design a comfortable lifestyle where you’re productive but also taking really good care of yourself so you have limitless creative potential.

What’s a dream of yours that you hope to accomplish in the coming years? (P.S. I know you will!)

My ultimate dream is to create a film that I write, direct and star in with you as a creative collaborator! It’s been something that I have visualized my whole life. I truly look forward to the day this dream actualizes. I can see it all now; from the crew to the script and the feelings I’ll have when it’s all coming together! Lexy Olivia interview

 

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that you live by?

A personal mantra I live by is mind over matter. I really push myself in every area of my life because I truly feel like we live in a world of infinite possibility. Thoughts are things and if we think we can achieve something, then so it is. A business mantra I apply is “learn, test, pivot.” To me, it is the essence of being an entrepreneur. You should always be learning, testing your hypothesis and applying that data back into your business to always get better results.

You have an unmistakable style that shines through on your Instagram. Can you tell me about your aesthetic and how you feel it reflects who you are?

Thank you so much! I feel like it’s definitely an ever evolving work in progress. I love how it oscillates between light & dark photos but there’s always tons of color! It’s a duality that I think I experience in life between the light and the dark. I just want my feed to inspire people and evoke a sense of gratitude and happiness that rubs off on people.

How are you a “Constant Creative”?

I cannot escape the Constant Creative lifestyle! Sometimes when I’m trying to quiet my mind and relax, I have non stop visions of new products I’d like to see, more partnerships, bigger productions. I could be listening to a song and envision an entire short film set to that song! It is endless and so exhilarating. I started out having no formal knowledge of painting and now I do it for a living. I love the constant creative process of being inspired to learn something new and incorporating it into your life. Who knows, maybe pottery is next! Although, I think I’d like to take up longboarding…

 

Quick Six:

  • Favorite book: Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls!
  • If I were to walk into your kitchen I would find this freshly made: Hummus or pesto! Eating clean is something I don’t compromise on. I love to have things prepped and ready to grab when I’m working full throttle all day.
  • A song you love to sing at the top of your lungs: I have a confession to make. I LOVE singing but I find myself rapping more often. You can generally always find me rapping Tupac or J. Cole lyrics when I’m driving in the car.
  • A hike you want to cross off your bucket list: I’ve been training to climb the Grand Teton which is a 13,700 foot mountain that I live near!
  • A person, dead or alive, you want to meet: I had a hard time with this one! Mostly because I don’t really idolize anyone. I love meeting people in general and hearing their stories. I think it would be really amazing to meet some of my friends that I’ve made through social media in real life though!
  • You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why? Pastel rainbow! It’s the first color scheme I ever painted that I fell in love with and is indicative of my style as an artist. A soft blend of all the colors we see around us.

Thank you Lexy for sharing your thoughts and story with everyone! You are such an inspiration! You can follow lexy on Instagram  or Facebook and be sure to check out her shop!

 

P.S. Did you miss the first Spotlight on Constant Creatives interview with Queen Shirin? Catch up here!

 

showing up for your dreams
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Showing Up For Your Dreams

I’m no expert on turning your dreams into a reality, but I am a girl who has big, big dreams and no plans of stopping anytime soon. I feel compelled to share some motivational thoughts on showing up for your dreams. I’m young, I have a lot of life left to live, but I’m showing up for my dreams and I want you to join me!

I came across something the other day that went something like this: If you don’t work hard towards making your dreams a reality, they become exactly that…a dream.

Maybe It’s The Fear Talking

Have you ever had that experience where there’s something you really want to do or accomplish, but you’re kind of blocked from just starting in on it? I know I have! Maybe it’s the fear talking, maybe it’s the idea that your dream is so big, how could you ever reach it? And you keep putting it off because there’s no time or you just need to finish this one thing before you start in on moving towards your dream. But then weeks turn to months and months turn to years. Before you know it, that thing you were so passionate about is still a dream and you’re not closer to it than you were before.

It’s not enough to just be passionate about something. It’s not enough to list all the reasons why you can’t take that leap because there will never be a 100% perfect time in your life. You have to show up for your dreams so that they will become a reality or they will stay exactly that…a dream.

Showing Up For Your Dreams Is No Walk in the Park

I get it though, it’s no walk in the park to show up for your dreams. It takes time out of your day, away from your family or friends, commitment, perseverance, and an unshakeable faith. There have been plenty of times where I questioned my path. To be honest, I’ve always had this unwavering faith and laser focus that I will achieve my dreams. Once I was able to say with confidence that I wanted to act and be a screenwriter (and now a blogger) I’ve never looked back. But that doesn’t mean that there are times when it’s still a challenge to show up for my dreams. Like I said, it’s not easy.

It’s not easy to learn about the world of blogging. And in my opinion if you want to do something greater with your blog than make it an online diary, you have to work at it. Learn the blogging world inside and out and show up consistently on the platform. The same goes for the other things I’m passionate about. It’s not always easy to sit down and force myself to write just a few pages in my script. Or make a commitment (financially and otherwise) to sign up for a new acting class, etc., the list goes on and on. But I know that the same goes for you. I know you’re sitting there feeling all the same things I’m feeling.

It is necessary to show up for your dreams, work hard towards them with the mindset that there will be no “backup plan,” and make forward moving steps towards what you really want to do in life.

6 Ways to Show Up For Your Dreams

1. Take one actionable step each week. I know it sounds so simple, but there are a lot of times when we don’t even do this “simple thing.” It’s Monday and we tell ourselves we’ll do something to move in the direction of our dreams and before we know it, it’s Sunday again. Send out your resume, sign up for a class, quit the job you hate, send one email, read a book on the topic you want to be an expert on, better your craft. Just. Do. Something. Anything. Because don’t forget, the “I will next weeks” turn into years. Don’t let that happen to you (or me).

2. Practice self-compassion. So, this might contradict the first step, but don’t be so hard on yourself when you fall off the wagon. Yes, try to take one small step each week but if you have a bad week and don’t do anything, don’t beat yourself up over it. Don’t let one bad week derail your entire journey, just pick up where you left off but with more focus and perseverance to stay on that path.

3. Own who you are and what you want. Showing up for your dreams means owning what you love, what you’re passionate about, and what you want to do in life. Read my post on Speaking Confidently About What You Do for more on this. It’s so important, and one of my most-read blog posts to date.

4. Continue to learn and work on your craft. I think one way to stand out from the crowd is to know your craft, your business, or your industry inside and out. Whatever you dreams are, do everything you can to educate yourself and learn as much as you can about it. I love learning and I’ll never stop reading, exploring, and trying new things. Sign up for a class, read a book, take an online course, watch videos, there are endless possibilities! But don’t put it off because learning also takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?

5. Prioritize your dreams. One of the hardest things is making time for those tiny actionable steps that will lead to something greater. But if that means doing a 30 minute task instead of watching your favorite Netflix show, waking up earlier, not going out during the week, whatever it is just prioritize your dreams.

From my Etsy shop: Celebrate Every Tiny Victory Postcard

Bonus: Have someone to encourage you and your dreams. Being an entrepreneur, a creative, or really anyone with a DREAM can be lonely and tough to navigate. Having someone there to listen to your bad days and encourage you when you have those tiny victories really makes a world of difference.

Let’s make a mental pact together to take an actionable step towards our dreams this week. If you want, leave a comment below and tell me what yours is I would love to hear it! Scroll to the bottom to comment!

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10 Influential Women to Read, Watch, or Listen to For Major Inspiration

influential women to read, watch, or listen to for major inspiration

There are honestly so many inspiring and influential women out there, but I thought I would share 10 women that ignite passion, motivation, and encouragement in their own unique ways. Whether it’s through their blogs, books, podcasts, or Youtube channels, all of these women will bring some serious inspiration into your life!

1.   Lauren Hooker of Elle & Company:

When I came across Lauren’s blog during the building stages of my website, it was like stumbling across a treasure chest of all things branding, growing your business, creating amazing content, and SO much more! For any creative entrepreneur out there, this is one woman you don’t want to miss. Every single one of her blog posts is so helpful, she truly focuses on serving her readers, and her content is unmistakable, it’s that good. When I say that, I really mean EVERY single blog post is purposeful and I walk away from reading with a new idea or strategy for my business. Not only does she have a blog, but she goes above and beyond with her Elle Chats, a weekly webinar, and she also offers E-courses (I can’t wait to sign up for the Adobe one)

2.   Maya of Shameless Maya:

If the name doesn’t already give it away, Maya Washington is an extremely talented and influential Youtuber who inspires you to share who you are and celebrate that shamelessly! I love her videos because she really encourages you to go out there and not care what other people think and to follow your passion with all your heart. Maya has an unmistakable style and vibe about her that will make you binge watch all her videos! I also love her Tech Talk videos, they’re super informational in an engaging way. Also talk about being a #ConstantCreative, Maya is also a creative producer and actor who stars in Google’s Original Series, God Complx and Feature Film, Alaska is a Drag.

3.   Hannah Gale:

The first blog I ever read of hers made me laugh out loud, literally! This gal is so funny, down to earth, and also quite inspiring. Her wit and humor will draw you in, but her well thought out blog posts with thoughtful content will keep you there. She’s all about being YOU, whatever that may look like. She shares her life and her heart on her blog and also on her YouTube channel. She’s a major influencer in the blogging/beauty/fashion world and you should check her out ASAP.

4.   Natalie Franke of The Rising Tide Society:

Being in The Rising Tide Society has changed my journey as a creative and so has the incredibly inspiring Natalie Franke. In the spirit of #communityovercompetition, Natalie started a community where creative entrepreneurs can band together to encourage, learn with, and inspire each other. Whether it’s through the Facebook page (which is nearing 100,000 members quickly and you should absolutely join as a creative) or via the weekly TuesdaysTogether the Rising Tide Society holds, she’s a voice in the creative community this generation needs. Natalie has her own blog with such valuable content and she also has a pretty strong vlogging game on her Youtube channel! Maybe it’s because she started The Rising Tide Society in her early 20’s or maybe it’s because she likes coffee as much as I do, either way, she’s one influential and inspiring chick!

5.   Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman of A Beautiful Mess:

This was one of the first blogs I EVER read, isn’t that crazy? I remember checking their blog religiously to see if they had added any new posts, I was obsessed. Sisters Elsie and Emma have created an empire with A Beautiful Mess and it’s for good reason. Their blog really resonates with me because you can see that they’re passionate about different things and didn’t want to be confined to one topic, a lot like myself I would say. Plus, their blog is total eye –candy! On A Beautiful Mess, you’ll find blogs on everything from food, décor, hair tutorials, crafts, blogging, travel, fashion, you name it! They truly have a colorful outlook on life that makes them stand apart from the crowd and inspires people like me (and you) every day! Elsie and Emma not only have a blog, but they also have an entire shop full of books, apps, classes, planners, a Happy Mail subscription, and so much more! What else could they possibly have?! Oh yeah, a popular DIY Youtube channel. If I had to say what I hope my blog will become one day, A Beautiful Mess has set the standard for me!

6.   Maya Elious:

You can pretty much just call her the content queen! She helps creative women strategize with purpose-driven content and the second I downloaded one of her guides, I was hooked! She has a killer blog and so many freebies that will challenge you with your content in the best way possible. Maya also has a YouTube channel that I recently came across and she’s all about helping you find your purpose and grow overall as a person. All of her videos are so inspiring, SO uplifting, and really encouraging. I think she said it best when she says: “It’s time for you to step into your purpose, strategize your business, and be the boss you know you’re meant to be.

7.   Reese Witherspoon:

Not only is she one of my all-time favorite actresses (and I hope I get to work with her one day) but she also started a #ForTheLoveOfReading book club that’s run exclusively on Instagram called @rwbookclub. There’s no formal website, instead she starts a conversation with her followers to pick the next book—the perfect kind of book club for the Millennial generation, right? I’m a bit of a romantic when it comes to books and the written word and I love that she’s keeping book clubs alive in this social media driven world. Also, she puts out AMAZING film and television content with her Pacific Standard production company who focuses primarily on female-driven stories. So yeah, #GoReeseGo

8.   Julie Solomon:

Oh man, it was like hitting a gold mine with Julie! I stumbled across her Instagram which eventually led me to her Pitch It Perfect course and that was one of the best decisions I could have made since I knew I eventually wanted to start my own blog, and here we are! Her Pitch It Perfect course is a must-do and I really walked away from that course feeling so much more confident in navigation collaborations and reaching out to brands. There’s even more good stuff on branding, pitching, blogging, and social media on her blog. She also just launched an amazing podcast called The Influencer podcast that’s my latest addiction! Seriously, this is another one that I have on repeat in my car because I love soaking up all the great information this podcast has. I love that she is so passionate about what she does, but in such a relatable way. She’s so encouraging and engaged with her audience, I know you will feel the same way about her too!

9.   Jenna Kutcher:

She’s another one that I gush about to people all the time, this girl is the real deal! You really do end up feeling like her best friend after reading her blog or listening to her podcast—both which absolutely top the blogging and podcasting charts, at least in my opinion. I actually came across The Goal Digger Podcast first and I think that’s all I listened to in my car for a week straight! Jenna Kutcher has lots to say about marketing, growing your business, and being your most authentic self in every part of life. She’s not afraid to be herself and consistently talks about her love for Mac n Cheese too, which is fine by me because pasta is my must-have. Go check her out! (And let me know when you’ve been down the JK rabbit hole of goodness for days and days).

10.   Joanna Gaines:

The woman of the year! Joanna Gaines is everywhere these days because her style and outlook on life is inspiring and so contagious! You probably know her from HGTV’s Fixer Upper where you’ll find lots of inspiration for your home and shiplap for days, but she also has a book that she wrote with her husband Chip called The Magnolia Story. This book is SO good it will make you feel motivated, empowered, and ready to put in the hard work it takes to accomplish your dreams. You can also read more from Joanna in their magazine, The Magnolia Journal. One of my favorite parts of the journal is the “A Note From Jo,” heart-felt musings from Jo herself about the little things in life that matter a lot. Reading those pages, and the Manifesto in the back of the journal, make me feel like I’m sitting on a back porch getting advice from my Mom or wise older sister. Her words are just a beautiful as her heart and she truly inspires me!

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WhyYouShouldNeverPutYourEtsyShopOnVacationMode
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Why You Should Never Put Your Etsy Shop On Vacation Mode

Summer time and the livin’s easy, right? Right, BUT if you have an Etsy shop I strongly urge you to take the road less traveled and do not put your shop on Vacation Mode. It really seems like a simple fix, however putting your shop on vacation mode can do more damage in the long run even if it gives you a temporary break to relax. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way and I would love to be a little vulnerable and show you a behind-the-scenes look at how this move has affected my shop since last year. I realize that this may not happen to every single Etsy shop out there, but it’s my hope that sharing this with you will show you a possibility of what could happen.

Learning The Hard Way With My Etsy Shop On Vacation Mode

I’ve been selling on Etsy with my shop WritersWire for five years, since 2013, and a lot has changed on Etsy throughout the years. For the most part, there have been a lot of improvements (maybe up until this year). But I’ve had to learn the hard way with some things because Etsy just doesn’t provide certain information to its users. And if you’ve ever gone Googling for answers like I have, information found in Etsy forums, on Reddit, or even in Facebook groups can be really confusing—everyone has an opinion on everything and most of the time they are completely contradicting!

In August 2016, I put my shop on Vacation Mode for 90 days. A long time to be in vacation mode, but something I felt I had to do. The first leg of my vacation mode was so I could travel and I wouldn’t be in a space to still ship orders. The other leg and the main reason I wanted to put my shop on vacation mode was because I was going through a re-brand and adding new and different products to my shop, including going through mountains and valleys trying to find the right manufacturer for certain new products. By the time I was ready to open my shop back up I had improved photos, better SEO and keywords, updated listing descriptions, updated about me/my story pages, and more. It was a total upgrade in every way. One thing was for certain, I had never come across information telling me putting my shop on vacation mode could negatively affect my shop.

Vague Information

Something you may not know is that when you put your shop on Vacation Mode, your products won’t appear in their search engine. If someone types in your shop’s exact name, that should show up, but even if you were ranked on the first page for “coffee mugs,” your product won’t be there as a suggested listing once you’re in Vacation Mode. There was so much positive talk around the fact that potential customers can still see your listings in your shop even if they just can’t purchase, that I thought my shop would be fine. I had an announcement in my shop stating why I was in Vacation Mode, when I was returning, and that customers can feel free to reach out if needed—but once I returned, I found that none of the things I did to improve my shop actually did so. Maybe you can see why I was swayed that going into Vacation Mode wasn’t a bad thing when this is what I find on Etsy’s Vacation Mode information page:

etyshoponvacationmode

 

It does tell you that your shop won’t show up in their search engines, but it’s vague information.

What I Wish Etsy Would Tell You

What I wish Etsy would explicitly say is that “your shop will most likely be negatively affected by going into vacation mode. And the longer you’re in vacation mode, the harder it will be to recover.” I truly thought that once I hit active again, the orders would start coming in regularly like before. I thought my stats would return to normal after my first few weeks of opening back up, but I was so so wrong.

From my research, it seems like if you are in Vacation Mode for longer than 30 days, once you do return it will be like starting over. STARTING OVER! Remember those first few months where you were checking your email every second to see if you had a new order? Or when you were doing everything you could to show up in Etsy’s search rankings and checking back every minute to see if you ranked higher yet? Yeah, it’s like that once your shop is active again after such a break. Your shop views will go down, your orders and revenue won’t be the same, and the traffic to your shop will change too. I’m slowly but surely just seeing a change 1 year later. Yep, a whole entire year later and I’m finally seeing upward movement. Slow upward movement I should say, and that’s after ferociously pinning my products on Pinterest, trying Etsy advertising for a little bit, and everything else under the sun.

Behind The Curtains: My Shop Stats Since Vacation Mode

I’m going to do something a little scary and show you behind the curtains of my shop. I want to be completely transparent and show you some stats so you can see for yourself. The truth is that being an Etsy shop seller isn’t always fun and easy. While my stats have improved during this season of my Etsy shop, below are recent screenshots of the stats in my shop in recent previous months and the hit I’ve taken since last year, specifically after I went into Vacation Mode.

As you can see, below is a screenshot of my stats from April 2017 – May 2017, about five months after opening my shop up again. My visits had decreased by 85% and my orders were down by 63%! That is a HUGE decrease. I was getting 6,764 visits during that same time period in the previous year.

 

whyyoushouldneverputyouretsyshoponvacationmode

My traffic has also drastically changed. Below is a screenshot looking at my year totals of traffic. Not just the numbers, although going from 46,000 to 8,800 is a big change, but the sources of traffic also changed. Before Vacation Mode, I was getting so much direct traffic, meaning traffic that came from people typing in my URL to their browser or who had saved/bookmarked my Etsy shop and would return.

 

why you should never put your etsy shop on vacation mode

This year, my biggest traffic source is from social media. Specifically, Pinterest brings in 60 of the 67% of my social media traffic. However, my direct traffic is only at 26% this year. While it’s my second biggest source of traffic, it’s still nothing like it was last year.

why you should never put your etsy shop on vacation mode

What Can You Do To Prevent These Side Effects From Hitting Your Shop?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many alternatives to Vacation Mode except to outsource help. My first suggestion would be to determine if you truly need to go into Vacation Mode. When you put your shop in Vacation Mode you are turning potential customers into most-likely-wont-be-customers due to the fact that they can’t actually see your listings in the Etsy search and can’t buy any of your products. If you will be away too long and not in a position to package or ship your products, can you hire a temporary assistant to cover these duties? My good friend Lexy of Lexy Olivia, who has a huge following with her bookmarks, has been upfront with her customers and followers on social media in the past of when she will be away and has hired a temporary assistant to fill her orders. Her audience understands and would rather have the option to buy a bookmark when they want as opposed to waiting for when she returns.

Now, I completely understand the other point of view with this argument; when you have no other choice but to put your shop on Vacation Mode. However, I strongly urge you to think of your Etsy shop like a real in-person boutique shop. You wouldn’t just up and close for a few weeks or months, would you? You would likely outsource help for the time that you had to be away. The luxury of having an online shop is so that it can be flexible with your lifestyle and it’s something YOU are in control of. That can be both a blessing and a curse, though. You have the power, with owning an Etsy shop, to shut down for however long you want. If that’s truly your only option, there are times in life when we have to do what’s best for our mental health, our family, or whatever your hurdle may be. However, you and your shop are also the only person that will take a hit from doing this. You may not have the financial means to hire a temporary assistant if and when you find yourself in a position to take a short leave of absence from the shop, but I hope this post will help you to see the possible outcome of doing so.

Tips If You Must Absolutely Put Your Etsy Shop On Vacation Mode

You might find yourself with no alternative, and if I’m being totally honest I’m not sure these things below truly helped me if I’m just slowly seeing results 1 years later. However, maybe your experience will be different.

  1. Put up a shop announcement (super easy in Settings > Options > Vacation Mode > Vacation Announcement ) stating that your Etsy shop will be on Vacation Mode and give an expected return date. If you will be without wifi for a certain amount of time, you can also enter an auto-reply so your potential customers will know why you might be absent.
  2. If possible, respond in a timely manner to anyone that messages you. Really, this should be no different than how you usually run your shop, but being extra “on it” with your customer service and conversations might give potential customers a reason to wait until you’re back and they can purchase from you again.
  3. Take this time to improve your shop’s keywords, SEO, and photos. There are lots of helpful articles on improving your Etsy shop’s SEO, Keywords, Photos, and more (like the ones I just linked to, click on them!) If you’re putting yourself in a position where you can’t sell anything, try to squeeze in time to improve your shop.

The Bottom Line

There are Etsy sellers and shops who have gone into Vacation Mode and don’t see any negative effects when they return (read almost any Etsy forum and you will see responses like this), but that was most definitely not my experience and I had no one to tell me the possible outcome.

I hope that this post shows you a possible alternative of going into Vacation Mode so you can make an informed decision when this question arises in your business. Have you experienced these same difficulties in your shop? Or do you have a different experience you’d like to share? Tell me in the comments below! You can browse my Etsy shop here on my site or directly from Etsy too!

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Talking With Confidence About What You Do in Work and Life
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Talking with Confidence About What You Do

It’s not easy talking with confidence about what you do, especially for creatives. There are a lot of millennial creatives (myself included) who don’t live a typical 9-5 lifestyle and that can make it both hard to explain what we do on a day-to-day and stressful to justify turning our passions into a profitable way of life.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Speaking about what you do in a confident, shameless way extends beyond telling others a fact about you or where your interests lie. It’s a window into your purpose and leading with this confidence not only shows people who you are, but it also helps guide yourself too.

Especially as a new blogger, this topic is something I want to start a conversation around with millennials. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to tell people that you’re starting something new and it takes a lot of guts to talk about that new blog, or side business, or creative venture you’re pursuing. It doesn’t always come easy for me to unabashedly talk about what I’m working on because it’s not a “safety guaranteed” way of life. There are times when I have to take a deep breath and remind myself not to shy away from it. However, I think that’s all the more reason to lead off with conviction in what you do.

For me personally, this is something I’ve struggled with over the years. I remember even back in high school it was easy for me to talk about writing and how that’s what I wanted to do in life, but I hid behind that. Writing wasn’t all I was interested in, but I didn’t have the confidence to say I was also interested in acting, filmmaking, etc.

Looking back on it, there are a few reasons why I wasn’t confident enough in years past:

  1. I was never the loudest personality in the room. I’m outgoing, but always more of an observer. I really thought that there was no way people would ever see me as an actor because I wasn’t the life of the party or the ___ theater kid. However, hindsight is 20/20 and there was no way anyone was ever going to think of me as more than the girl who wants to be a screenwriter because I never had the guts to say otherwise.
  2. No one else my age was running a small business (or so it felt). So, I always felt shy talking about my Etsy shop because I felt freakishly interested in online marketing, product launches, and small business statistics with no one my age to talk about it with. Today I’d be willing to bet that there were more people my age who did have side businesses, but were also shy to talk about it. I’ve also come to realize that it didn’t matter. Who cares if I was the only one who had an Etsy shop at 18? I needed to learn to own it.
  3. The lifestyle of any creative is never really a steady one. I had that drive in me to be successful, but I always felt pressured to go with the job that would tell people I would have the most security. More than that, I felt the negative stigma that came with telling people I was interested in certain creative endeavors that also happened to be so unsteady. There would be no office for me to go into every day and no boss to report to except myself. “Another LA screenwriter, another LA actor,” and maybe some people did think those things. But it was up to me to start talking with confidence about what I want to do and talk about MYSELF with confidence and passion. That was the only way there would be a silver lining in such an unsteady environment. I cared incredibly too much what people thought of me. To this day, it’s something I actively have to surrender. At the end of the day, being confident in who you are and what you want to do says so much about yourself and that’s the only opinion that should matter, your own one.

Post-Grad Questions: Now That You’re An Adult…

I remember after I graduated college it seemed as if I was flooded with questions about what I want to do, what jobs I’ve applied for, the list goes on and on. The truth was that I was the one that put the most pressure on myself to make a good impression and that’s when the fear of talking about what I do and what I’m passionate about would creep in. As creatives, we get a lot of eye-roll from people that think we sit at home and scroll through Facebook all day, and the thing is I totally get it. I understand why people think that, when the access to pajamas, our laptop, and Rice Krispy cereal are within reach. But that’s exactly WHY  talking with confidence about what you do, about your business, and about what you’re passionate about.

There’s a stigma that bloggers can’t make a living off blogging and that new bloggers shouldn’t even enter the market because it’s so over-saturated. I completely disagree with this kind of thinking. There is always room for someone who is passionate about what they want to do and share with the world. It will be unique because you’ll make it unique with your own perspective. If you’re the kind of person that’s still not convinced though…

Here’s 3 reasons why stepping into your passions with purpose and confidence is so important:

  1. Networking. Talking with confidence about what you do is not only important when you’re around people from your industry, but also when you’re around strangers and ordinary people. It seems like it’s always a friend of a friend or that girl from the bar that happens to be the one person that will put you in connection with someone for a promotion or collaboration.
  2. Connection. Not only for networking purposes, but owning what you do and shamelessly telling people about it with that fire in your eyes creates an unforgettable connection. People remember you when you can talk about yourself and what you do with confidence. On a personal level, it’s not only more interesting when you can speak about what you do in this way but it’s a more accurate depiction of who you are as a person. Maybe you work a full-time job, but you’re SO passionate about your Etsy shop you recently started. By not telling people about that part of your story, you’re doing yourself a disservice. That’s part of who you are and you probably spend more time talking about that side hustle and that creative aspect of your life, than your office job.
  3. Put it out there in the universe. I think there’s some truth to this so-called secret to life. You know when you have someone or something on your mind that you’ve been dreaming about and suddenly it comes true or shows up in your life? I think the same goes for talking about what you love to do with that faith and conviction. When you do it enough, it’s bound to make an impact in your life and in others.

Ultimately, this fear just extends into caring what people thought of me WAY too much. The truth is that I still struggle with this today, but over the last year and a half I have come into my own confidence a lot more. Sure, there are conversations when people ask me what I do and it’s scary to lead off with that surefootedness of what I do and what I’m passionate about, but that’s first and foremost who I am. I know I can say without a doubt that I feel so much better after a conversation where I shamelessly described who I am and what I love. I know the same will be true for you when you lead off with that confident foot too. Check out my manifesto for a glimpse into how I want to lead with confidence.

Leave a comment below if this is something you feel you struggle with too, or have in the past! I’d love to hear from you!

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Sam Chat: The Story Behind Constant Creative & How I Started Blogging
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Sam Chat: The Story Behind Constant Creative

Many of you have asked..…just kidding. No one has asked because this blog is brand spankin’ new, but! I figured that some of you might be curious why I chose the name Constant Creative for my blog and wanted to give a little backstory on how I started blogging.

Trial and Error

This blog was a long time coming and something I wanted to do for a while. I started a different blog years ago that was linked to my Etsy shop (this embarrassing blog shall not be named), but it was all over the place and completely unorganized. Most days I would post pictures of the cards I made and occasionally there would be a post on my favorite makeup picks from Bobbi Brown (still my go-to) or my favorite coffee shops in LA. I also decided to run a short story contest one time, and to my surprise someone actually entered haha. But I didn’t stick with that blog for very long for a few reasons:

  • I expected to have readers and comments right away. I thought that by my blog being out there on the internet I would gain traffic fast. Nope, I was so wrong. Having these kinds of expectations didn’t help either, because I got discouraged pretty quickly and didn’t stick with it.
  • There was no focus to that blog! I was an Etsy shop blog + lifestyle blog + creative writing blog + whatever else popped into my head. I had no direction.
  • The research wasn’t there. I had no idea the work that went into having a blog and probably wasn’t 100% interested or committed. I had no idea what a brand was, that you needed good photography or to post regularly, and I opened the blog through wordpress.com, as in blogname.wordpress.com and I really thought I was set. There’s nothing wrong with starting a blog there, but I still didn’t do my research!

No Niche For Me…Sort Of

Fast forward to today and this blog fell into place faster than I thought it would. Reasons I held back for so long were because I honestly thought no one would want to read it, I didn’t know what to focus on because I felt interested in a variety of things, and I thought that the market was already so saturated with bloggers, how would I ever stand out?

How could I talk about all the things I felt passionate about without being all over the place like before? I didn’t want to corner myself into a small niche, especially one that I wasn’t 100% into. I knew that if I became a fashion blogger who linked to clothes all the time or started a blog that focused on writing or acting specifically, I would fall short of connecting to my audience due to burn out from writing or posting about one specific thing day in and day out that I wasn’t 100% passionate about. While many people are successful and benefit from being in a smaller niche, I knew that I didn’t want my blog to be too narrow or I would be setting myself up for failure. I would venture to say that having a creative living + lifestyle blog is in its own niche, but it’s one that works for me.

Like a Glass Slipper

One day while at a friend’s house, I was talking with her mom about life and what I currently had going on. Her response to me listing off a few different endeavors was, “Wow, you are constantly doing something creative. That’s awesome!” Almost like an epiphany, it hit me. In honor of staying true to myself, why not start a blog about all the creative things I’m always doing? A creative living blog. The bloggers I connect to the most are the ones that I can tell truly love the things they’re talking about. For me, that’s anything creative. I wanted to be able to share about ALL the creative things I’m passionate about, not just one aspect.

For so long, I held back because I thought that being passionate in multiple things meant that I was committed to none of them. To a certain extent, I think that’s true. I don’t think you can be a pro golfer at the same time as trying to become an astronaut. And the only reason I don’t think that’s possible is because there’s not enough time in the day. If there was, then power to you!  However, I think it should be celebrated when people are creative and passionate about a handful of things.

Thus, Constant Creative was born. The second that name entered my brain it was as if the glass slipper fit and it felt so good! I know that I’ll be my most authentic self if I show my audience that I’m passionate about different things and I love to be creative. The best part is that creativity really expands so wide and means so many different things! For me, creative living extends all the way from art to business to creating a life you love.

I wanted not only to share about the creative things I have going on in my own life, but creative things I’m learning more and more about every day. I wanted my blog to talk about starting your own creative business and being a cheerleader for any woman that’s thinking about starting a side hustle, or trying a new art, or taking a leap to make something she’s always wanted to create. I discover creative inspiration from new things every day. Some surprise me, like how it really feels creative to bake a new dessert or to put together an outfit or travel to a new place. Other times, I seek to know more about living a creative life and stumble upon the most interesting answers, people, and ideas. I’m so excited to share it ALL with you here.

The Journey Ahead

I have so much to learn on this blogging journey but I couldn’t be happier about it! What’s exciting to me is all the doors that blogging opens; all the people, places, collaborations and new perspectives I wouldn’t get to see otherwise.  If you’re joining me on this journey, make sure to stop by and say hi! Scroll down and leave a comment, I’d love to know about who you are, what you do, where you’re from and where you’re going!

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The Story Behind Constant Creative and How I Started Blogging

 

 

 

 

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Morning Pages for Creatives: How They Can Help You Gain Clarity in Your Life & Business
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Morning Pages for Creatives: How They Can Help You Gain Clarity in Your Life & Business

The Importance of Morning Pages & How It Changed My Life

Five years ago, I was told about Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, a 12 week step-by-step guide to uncovering your “inner artist” and becoming unblocked creatively.  What I thought I would discover is a cult-followed book that spouts a bunch of non-sense about how to overcome self-doubt or the “secret” that would fall short of my expectations like so many other books. What I never thought I would find is a book that changed my life.

I know—that’s a heavy statement, but I mean that even in the lightest of terms too. At the heart of The Artist’s Way is a ritual called morning pages. At the very least incorporating this ritual changed my morning routine and in the greatest sense, it made me acutely more aware of what I want out of life, in my career, and to sort through things/thoughts/people that might be weighing me down. You might’ve heard of “morning pages” described in a different way. I had heard of stream of consciousness writing or free-writing, where in both instances you write about whatever comes to mind. Morning Pages are similar, but Cameron refers to morning pages as 3 pages written in longhand form (preferably on 8 1/2 x 10 paper) every morning. The idea behind this ritual is that you will start to free yourself creatively, write away the self-doubt that burdens your creative dreams, discover things about yourself you may not have realized, and get to the core of what might be blocking you from creative success.

What’s the Difference Between Journaling and Morning Pages?

Mornings pages aren’t addressed to anyone, as in “Dear diary…” and unlike a journal or diary, they aren’t meant to look back on and read. Think of them more as a write them and let ‘em go type of thing. But, it’s up to you to decide where you want to take your morning pages. Similar to a diary though, they are meant for your eyes only. What I love about morning pages, as Julia Cameron puts it, “There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages.” This takes away so much pressure because you can rest assured that you’re free to write whatever comes to mind. If you want to complain about the dentist yesterday, that’s fine! If a new character pops into your head for your novel, go with it! At first, the task of writing 3 pages every single morning is daunting. I’ll admit that I even dreaded it at first because it felt like I had to think of things to write. If you have to, you can write over and over again “I don’t know what to write” until something pops up. But don’t feel like a fraud if you struggle with this at first because it becomes easier. That I promise you!

The best thing you can do is explore how morning pages best fits you. There’s no wrong way to go about it, so try different things! For example, I usually feel like I need to spend the first page writing down things that are bugging me or stressing me out or weighing negatively on my mind. Then the other pages are usually more positive, filled with things I want to do or I’m working on or excited about. I’ve also heard of some people using their morning pages to map out their day or to do a handwritten meditation, so there’s a lot of possibility for something that’s “stream of consciousness.”

Moving Through Morning Pages

A lot of thoughts will pop into your head as you move through the weeks of The Artist’s Way and morning pages. So even when you think you want to quit or don’t want to get up 30 minutes earlier to write your pages, here are some advantages that come from them:

  • You start to look forward to it. You move from struggling to find things to write, to struggling to keep up with all the thoughts that are popping into your head. Seriously—you should see some of my pages. They start out so nice and then towards the end of the 2nd page it’s completely chicken scratch because I have so many things that are coming to mind that I want to write down before they vanish! Chicken scratch or not, you start to find a peace of mind not just about your creative pursuits, but about your life, relationships, things you stress over, things you have anxiety over… the list never ends. You end up recording your thoughts about things you didn’t even realize you had an opinion on, or a feeling about, or an idea of. That’s pretty powerful, isn’t it?
  • You gain more confidence and hear that voice A LOT less that says, “Are you crazy? You can’t do that.” As Julia Cameron likes to call it, your “inner critic” shuts up a lot more.
  • The greatest thing that happens though, is the clarity you get from doing these morning pages. Essentially what we’re doing is starting our day with a thought dump. You write down everything that comes to mind (good and bad). I found that when I did this brain-dump in the morning, I was able to move through my day with such a freeing feeling. A lot of the thoughts that seemed to cloud my mind or give me anxiety over were all dumped into this notebook that I left behind as I went about my day each morning. And then came the flood of creative ideas.
  • It was as if I had to push aside the worries and self-doubt that clouded my brain to make room for confidence and ideas that were just waiting to pop into my mind. I have no doubt that’s what will also happen for you and THIS is why Julia Cameron created “morning pages.” But it’s not just meant for creative people that need to make room for more ideas or who are feeling creatively blocked.

What If I am Not A Creative?

Morning Pages is one of the most helpful rituals/tools for people that don’t even know they are creative. Everyone is creative on some level, but what “creativity” looks like is completely different for each person. I know, I know—maybe you’re sitting there on the other side of this screen saying: “Sam, I am not creative. I work out of an office in a cubicle from 9-5 and the thought of writing or drawing or taking a picture sounds like the most boring thing in the world to me.” That’s fine! But if you don’t think re-decorating your room or sanding a coffee table down to be re-painted or baking a pie is creative…then I’m real excited for the things you’ll discover after making morning pages part of your ritual.

The discovery that comes through writing down everything that passes through your mind is amazing. You may be that “suit” that works in the office, but when you start to do morning pages you start to uncover dreams you buried 30 years ago and suddenly that idea you had of opening your own restaurant doesn’t seem so crazy anymore. So yeah, I’d say that morning pages are pretty dang life-changing!

Give It A Go

Here are some of my tips for starting morning pages:

  • Have an open mind. Like I said, even if you don’t consider yourself creative or don’t think you have any thoughts or feelings buried within you—just try it!
  • Take it one day at a time. Don’t think about week 12 when you’re on week 1. It will make it easier on yourself when you think of the day’s ritual of writing those 3 morning pages as opposed to stressing about how many you’ll need to write by the end of week 12. Don’t stress because more than likely your mindset will shift by the end of it all.
  • If you find 8 ½ x 10 page papers too daunting, choose a smaller notebook. This is something that I’m not sure would be recommended straight from Julia Cameron herself, but I’ve found that I feel accomplished after writing these pages no matter how big the pages are. I wouldn’t sell yourself short, but don’t stress on page size either.
  • Don’t write your pages on your laptop. This is a big no-no because it’s defeating many of the purposes of morning pages. Writing longhand means you have time to process your thoughts and ideas. You have time to sit with your thoughts whereas on a laptop, you’re more likely to rush through your pages and focus more on grammar errors than being aware of what’s going on in your head and heart. Plus, is it just me or is there something a little romantic and nostalgic about writing in a notebook with a good cup of coffee at hand?
  • Put your phone on silent. Your thoughts will get interrupted right when you’re on the verge of something great and your brain will start thinking ahead about your to-do or the Instagram you need to post. For the 20-30 min. that you need for your pages, that cute puppy video can wait!
  • Just start. Morning pages are really such a simple idea that it’s almost unbelievable to people that they can have this much of an impact. So with that, I leave you to go try morning pages for yourself!

Leave a comment below and let me know how you feel about incorporating this exercise into your routine! I’d love to know if you plan on giving Morning Pages a go and your thoughts throughout the process. Reach out if you’ve read the Artist’s Way and currently write morning pages yourself, too!

Ready to give it a try? As silly as this sounds, sometimes I was more apt to write my mornings pages when the paper or notebook was cute. Feel free to check out my Etsy shop and the cute notebooks I’ve added!

xosamantha

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Morning Pages for Creatives: How To Transform Your Life and Business from The Artist's Way Tool of Morning Pages

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