Subtitle

A personal look at the trails and triumphs of creating a business from the ground up; of starting a business selling what you create.

Monday, February 27, 2017

January 2017 Traffic, Income and Goals



January has finished and I did my review. I know things did not go as I had planned them but that's okay. At least I know why and what I can do differently. Writing things down is really helping me. But early in the month I realized I needed some form of accountability. I've got my notes but those are easily ignored. Being an introvert makes me hesitant to just buddy up with a stranger so my blog (and whoever reads it) will be my accountability partner. I've already shared my goals and objectives for this year in my last post. Now, I plan to share my monthly and quarterly reviews. This will include traffic and income reports and wellness reports. Some areas will be more detailed than others since this is a blog focused on creation; particularly creating a successful business.



This post is coming late because I underestimated how time consuming editing all these images would be. I got a few more orders than usual this month and let's not forget I still have a full-time job as well. I promise that February's reports will not be this late now that I have format to follow.

A few reminders, I have two businesses but I clearly indicate which stats you are seeing from each. Also, you can click on each picture to make it bigger so you can see the details better if you wish. So here without further ado are my January 2017 reports:

 January 2017 Traffic: 

In this section I will show how my growth strategy from my goal setting is working out. You will see stats on how many followers, users and buyers my website, blogs and social media accounts have. As well as what I am doing to attract and grow those numbers. 

Scarlet Moon Creations:

For those who are new, Scarlet Moon Creations is where I make and sell bath and body products as well as pagan and magical tools; all with a focus on self care.


Now for this business my main point of sale is my shop on Etsy so let's look at how January went traffic-wise. I had 328 overall views and 2 sales last month. Honestly, January is a very slow month for me regarding sales. This year is the first I have ever gotten sales in January so I must be doing something right. I got more views and favorites than ever before as well. I usually get, last minute sales in February for Valentine's day.



The above charts tell me what people coming to my shop are looking at and for. It seems I need to prep for holidays like Ostara with earlier promotions than I thought. I do get a lot of last minute shoppers so this is good to know. For those who do not know the Pagan holiday of Ostara, or the Spring Equinox, is in late March so if this many people are looking this early for something to help them celebrate I need to let more people know this early that I have what they want.

The other big takeaway here is more people are looking for my pagan products than my non-pagan ones. And that is mostly because my SEO is better on those. So over the course of the next year, I will be sifting focus a smidge.

I blocked out the revenue amount because Etsy calculates things slightly differently than I will show below in my income report and I don't want things to get confusing. But from the graph above you can get a gist. 

Blog & Google Analytics
So this is the traffic overview of this blog you are reading now in January 2017. Not shown? 3 email subscribers via Mail Chimp and 82 views on the 2 blog posts published this month.



As you can see I basically only get big jumps when I post, no one is coming back for more otherwise. And people are leaving pretty quickly. From this, I know I need to promote my posts more and go back to using google adsense to get better keywords. I honestly, have no idea why I have that big jump in the first days of the new year but my bullet journal post definitely brought in a whole new crop of viewers mid-month.



Now from these next charts you will see where my few visitors came from last month. Most via organic search via google and bing search engines it seems. So I'm not doing absolutely terrible when it comes to keywords and search terms but I could be doing better since my overall sessions are low. The next biggest channel is Social or social media and there is a big difference there. And since that is where I share my blog posts most often, I need to fix that as well.



These final stats about the blog show my users behavior. The page views and most popular pages overall in January. That /sharebutton.to is unfortunately spam referrals and I am working on getting rid of it. So ignoring that, my bullet journal post was the biggest hit last month followed by /, which indicates the main blog page. Then I can see some of my more popular posts from last year are still getting new views this year.
And now onto social media traffic.

Facebook
Oh Facebook, you live to make my life complicated. Facebook will not show me my previous months stats in nice looking graphs if I miss it by a day or two. However it will let me download lots of excel data for a previous month. And you don't want to see that. So for now I will give you a general idea of how things went in January and look forward to more detailed graphs in the next traffic reports.

Page Likes: 762
Avg. Reach (unique users): 488
Post Engagements: 12

My numbers here are down a bit since I did not post as much as usual this month and I'm afraid February is not looking much better. Bad Lashette.

Instagram
Instagram is a funny one. They recently started their insights but it seems to only show you a week at a time unless it is impressions for each post. I am committed to posting something once a day. But with the new stories feature, I'm not sure how that might affect what I post. Whatever I decide, IG has been the platform where I get the most interaction with people which I like. I am participating in my first giveaway so I'll be sure to discuss those results in next months report. In the meantime you can check out the giveaway here.

Followers: 409

And finally Pinterest. One of my favorite places to be online. In January I had a total of 106 followers here. 



But my reach has once again begun to increase. This is one thing I like about Pinterest, it steadily shows your pins to more and more people who are interested. 


Overall in January my impressions were up only because the 4th quarter of last year I basically neglected Pinterest all together. So even a little activity on my part was better than nothing. But I do still have lots of pins on my profile for Scarlet Moon Creations.


Top 5 pin impressions are all other people's images. Then came two of my Imbolc product pins which is great but they have almost 50% less impressions meaning they have been seen by less 50% less people than those first 5 pins listed. The pin with the most impressions got 400% times as many impressions and only 1 person saved it. 


And as far as this blog goes. It does not do nearly as well as you can see. The Bullet Journal post did the best last month though. I am adjusting my blog images to be more Pinterest friendly this year. And from what I learned here I need to spread my posts out into other boards and topics.

Excelsior Events:

And now my other business. The one I only talk about sparingly here. Excelsior Events, Inc is an event planning services company that I started last year. It takes a very different approach to market this business and make it successful. Most of what I do is in person and not online. But I do want to have that online presence since my target market is modern and alternative clients.

ExcelsiorEvent.com

According to Wordpress, I had 38 Views and 21 visitors in the month of January. 


My most popular page seems to be my home page followed by the Wedding Ceremony blog post I published but did not really share around. I believe I will see the stats for this go up as I have plans for it in February. I share all my blog posts on my Facebook page and tumblr account automatically, so those are accounted for here as well as all three big search engines. The top10-way site is another spam site I need to remove form my results. And I still have only 2 followers. 

The same situation as mentioned above. No pretty graphs.
Page Likes: 63
Avg. Reach (unique users): 60
Post Engagement: 13

I literally only posted the two blog posts from my website on my Facebook page in January. My engagement was higher than I was expecting and that turned out to be because I shared my blog posts on my personal profile which brought more unique users to it. Once I realized that I made that apart of my sharing plan for all future posts as well as some other Facebook promotions in February.

Pinterest
Now this business is more suited to Pinterest in this time of DIY Weddings. My blog posts have been crafted to appeal to potential clients via this social media platform. As of January, I have 2 followers.



As you can see I have a more steady and sharp climb in my reach. I believe because there are lots more people looking to plan their events, particularly my current focus weddings, than to buy products.


Impressions were a bit all over the place.


Top pins were the same across the board for impressions, clicks, saves and likes. But I realized something a bit late. I should be blogging about the great finds then pinning those images from my blog pages to pinterest. I will be doing that from now on.



Also, same as with my other Pinterest account, I need to spread my blog posts out into different boards and categories.


 January 2017 Income: 

I will be listing all income and expenses together here from both businesses. Since one of my objectives is to earn a certain amount from both as a total. 

Income

Etsy: $36.25

Expenses

Etsy Fees:$3.17
Supplies: $15.23
Ingredients: $19.10
Legal Zoom: $7.99
Payroll (turns out I don't need this yet): $44.09
Insurance: 70.83
Bank Fees: $12.00
Total: $172.41

Net Income: -$136.16
YTD: -$136.16


 Goals: 

Here I will discuss my goals and how I did or did not meet them for the month. These goals come from my project lists which are breakdowns of my annual objectives, listed here. 


January Review:

  • Renew driver's license -Turns out I need to take a day off to get my eyes checked and I had no time for that.
  • Update etsy listings -I did nothing for this and this was my biggest goal
  • Update officiant page I did but no I want to do more updates, lol.
  • Sign EE up for mail chimp Handled
  • Launch 3 new body butters -Did not finish this :(
  • Design ads -Another big activity I did not do.
  • Finish EE marketing plan -Nope.
  • Write two blog posts each - Yes! I was worried and it was close but I got it done.
  • Call accountants again - Yes again and they are working on my taxes.
  • Pay off con end bill -I really need to find an old bill with my account number.
  • Sell microwave -No
  • Sell shoes -No time
  • Sell books -Again no time
  • Self reiki This was great. Maybe do it earlier in the month though.
  • Use dumb bells 3x per week -I didn't even think about doing this.
  • Figure out google analytics I am so happy to be able to understand what I am looking at. I plan to share with you all.
  • Make posting schedule But did I follow it? OTL
  • Bring desk and metal kitchen thing in from storage -I need help with this obviously.
  • Daily draw readings It helped that I joined some challenges on IG. 

February Plans:

  • Finish January goals, ha!
  • Finish EE Financial Plan
  • Attend event planning networking event
  • Create Wedding checklist
  • Buy BTS merch
  • Organize photos
  • 2 blog posts each
  • Join Etsy & Amazon affiliates
  • Join Cruise with A&K
  • Consolidate student loans
  • Create card reading opt-in
  • Shred unwanted papers
  • Work out 3x per week
  • Continue savings
  • Create email lists for EE launch
So here it is the first behemoth reports form yours truly. I hope this was all understandable. If you have any questions or comments feel free to ask. I'll see you next month.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Goal Setting



In 2015 I had discovered the NiceOps Planathon and the Creativity Planner both of which helped me set down business goals. In the past year I have found multiple ways to expand on that. One thing that is often said is you must have S.M.A.R.T. goals. My issue with that has always been how do you put a time limit on something you've never done before and don't know how long it will all take? I'll be real, I'm still not 100% sure about the answer to that question. But in the very beginning, which is where I am now, you just do your best with the info that you have and go for it. Try your best. 




With that in mind I'll be sharing my progress throughout the year. But first what am I working towards? Let's take a look at my goals. 

2017 Annual Objectives

Financial: Become financially solvent; have multiple streams of income; pay off con end and tax debt; get savings for emergency fund; eliminate worry about bills and expenses coverage; buy a new computer; earn $20,000 from businesses.

Spiritual: Have a regular at home altar and ritual practice; monthly self reiki; offer readings and reiki services online; create rituals and spells to share.

Mental: Read more entrepreneur self help books; take more event planning courses; visit with guides to de-stress; play mentally challenging games

Physical: Lose 50lbs; remove lumps from abdominal;dance more; workout frustrations and stress physically; declutter. (there is one objective here that is too personal to not have hidden but I wanted to include it so I know its there.)

Relational: One vacation each with friends and family; practice driving in zipcar; visit friends upstate more.

These annual objectives are broken into five areas as suggested by Lisa Jacobs of Market Your Creativity. I've taken these objectives and written down the action steps (that I know of) I need to take to make each one happen. I used Kara Benz' example of Project Lists from the Getting Things Done method by David Allen. Except I don't keep a whole separate book for this. I'd never look at it if I did. With this I can create a timeline for each task or project in the action plans. It looks sort of like a Gantt chart. Then I break things down by what I need to do each quarter, month and week to make things happen. 

For example, one of my financial objectives is to earn $20,000 from my businesses this year. A big goal. One I have never achieved. But this is the "What would I do if I could not fail?" response. So I created an action plan which consists of an annual strategy, a growth strategy and a profit strategy for each business. Each strategy works together to achieve the objective. 


2017 Annual Strategy
My annual strategy is a basic outline of what I want to happen when this year. Keeping in mind that I am running two businesses, I've color-coded things. The items in black or big things happening in my life and work that I know will have an impact on my time. Orange is holidays and other important events. Red is for Scarlet Moon Creations and the Blue is for Excelsior Events. These items in these two colors show the big projects or money makers I have planned for this year. 

Then I break things down even further with Growth and Profit Strategies for each business. 


Scarlet Moon Creations
Growth Strategy
Point of Sale: Etsy Updates 7x per week
                        New product launch 3x per year
                        Blog 2x per month
                        Newsletter 2x per month
Social Media: Facebook: 4x per day (using postcron)
                         Instagram: 1x per day (using later)
                         Pinterest: 2x per week (using postcron)

Profit Strategy
Body Butters: # sold 10
Gift sets: # sold: 10
Readings: # sold 24
Body Powders: # sold 15
Old products: # sold 90

Goal: $3,300
          50 email subscribers
          3600 Instagram followers
          1000 Pinterest followers
          10,000 Facebook followers
Growth Strategy
Point of Sale: Website blog 2x per month
                         Email 2x per month
Social Media: Facebook: 2x per day (using postcron)
                         Pinterest: 4x per week (using postcron)

Profit Strategy
Officiant Services: # sold 35
Wedding Planning: # sold 5
Wedding Checklist: # sold 30
Wedding Timeline: # sold 27

Goal: $17,700
         150 Facebook followers
         150 Pinterest followers
         100 email subscribers

As you can see I have a Shop Update planned Scarlet Moon Creations this month. That's going to take a lot. I've been doing it here and there the past few months but I just need to buckle down and do it all at once. I know I need to update and make my shop more appealing to customers because people come but they don't buy very often from my etsy shop. So I looked over my shop and wrote out exactly what needed to get done. Some of these action steps are projects on their own. The big one is updating product photos. I needed another 2 pages to detail what photos need updating. Hence the exclamation point.



This all goes back to what I learned from Lisa Jacobs Your Best Year 2017. Things might not go exactly according to this detailed plan, cause you know life happens, but I won't feel so lost and overwhelmed. Each month and quarter I will review where I am at and how things went and adjust the next time periods plans accordingly. And I will share that with you all. That's right you will be getting monthly reports from me this year for income, traffic and goal updates.

Now we are already mid-way through February and I am behind. Through no fault but my own. I just did not do what I wanted to out of fear. Of what? Mostly just failure but I had a little defeatist attitude going on as well. However, I am aware of my issues and determined to work on them with a little help from you guys as well as family and friends. I've been sitting on this post for 2 weeks. I wrote most of this and the next post in a couple of hours. So, the January Reports will come out tomorrow since this one is so late. 

Look forward to that.
~Lashette
  Scarlet Moon Creations

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Look Back at 2016


Six months ago I became obsessed with improving my productivity. 

It started after months of being off topic in life and then months of feeling like a failure, over thinking things and analyzing every move I had made the past three months. Some would call what I did the first quarter of the year soul searching. I agree, but over thinking fits too. After that I started doing what I do best, researching. 

I desperately tried to put words to what went wrong and then figure out how to fix it. One thing I focused on was knowing myself and listening to my body and my intuition. We all have those split second moments that speak to us and then we ignore them because, well, they no basis in reality, right? Wrong. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that. I can pick out each time I didn't listen to myself. Whether it was not eating when I first thought about it or not saying no to a new venture because I couldn't remember I had good reason to do so.

Those situations happened way too often and time flies no matter whether you are accomplishing your goals or not. This self reflection coupled with my enjoyment for creating things led to self care. What makes me happy or at least feel better? Making things with my hands, music, laughter, baths, being warm, fed and clean, having space to work, family, friends, writing, art, beaches, color, having enough money, parks, looking at pretty things and helping people. That's my personal list and I endeavored to adjust my life to making sure to get those things when I needed and wanted them. 

My next step was to improve my productivity. One does not run two businesses without being productive. They run you otherwise. Thankfully self care research led me to bullet journaling. Finally, a place I could write everything down. Kim of Tiny Ray of Sunshine really opened my eyes with her blog and business bullet journal post. I had been struggling with administrative stuff because all the forms and spreadsheets on my computer screen seemed too much and not enough. I don't know if this makes sense but the screen was not big enough. I always felt like I couldn't see enough. 

Anyway, bullet journaling led me to Kara Benz's Boho Berry and the Getting Things Done method. Boho Berry also led me to, or back to because I have come across her before, Marketing Creativity by Lisa Jacobs. Think 90 day plans like the NiceOps Planathon but for an entire year and I think my head blew up when I read Your Best Year 2017. But that was just business.


Bullet journaling also led me to changing habits and habit trackers I use habit trackers to make sure I take care of myself physically and to keep my business endeavors on track. It also led me back to having daily routines, keeping memories, art journaling and spiritual journaling. Oh and YNAB! The more I could remember the better I felt. The more I took care of myself the better I felt. The more I planned the better I felt. The more I did besides read because I didn't get lost for days in books and stories online forgetting that there were other things in life that I enjoyed and missed out on, the better I felt.

By no means is my life now perfect. I still fall back into bad habits. I still argue with myself about eating. This is just a reflection of how 2016 went for me. I can happily tell you most of what I did from July on which is not the case for before that. And not because that's an older time period. I have been more present and more active since then. 

My cousin got married at a family home and she is one of the happiest people I know. I went to Camp Anime and had a better time than the previous year. My coven work has been going good. I finally made it to the beach in California. I read tons of great books. I dressed up and went out for Halloween and my birthday. I went to Kcon, enjoyed every second of it and made some new friends. A man I consider a brother got married and he and his wife planned a spectacular wedding all by themselves. They also bought a house and moved in together. Thanks to an old friend I now have a better relationship with my money and bills than ever before in life. The holidays were pretty damned good with family and good cheer and love even when good cheer was absent. I made twice as much in sales than I did last year. TWICE!! That is mind boggling.

I also have goals for 2017. But that's a post for another day. In 2015 I wrote vaguely about my plans for 2016. This time I wanted to be more structured and concrete and transparent. Details on that will come in my next blog post. So look out for that.

See you next time,
~Lashette
  Scarlet Moon Creations
  Excelsior Events, Inc.