Can an inanimate object get any more adorable?

Faux Tassel Keychain – I Love You To The Moon And Back

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My husband, Dustin, and I are growing Dogwood trees from seed. Quite honestly, I am surprised that any even sprouted. From a few simple internet searches, most said that they were horribly difficult to grow. Such is not the case.

I soaked 10 total seeds (5 pink dogwood seed and 5 white) for 5 days in a bottle of water. I did not remove the outer layer of skin and just planted the soaked seeds. Of the 10 seeds planted, 7 have sprouted.

Our intentions were to grow two trees, one for each of our babies. It looks like we will have many more trees than originally planned. A very pleasant surprise!

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”Chinese Proverb

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I am loving the Acorns iPhone App for investing my change from transactions. Dustin and I are investing in the aggressive portfolio as we are 30+ years away from retirement. All of those rounded up dollars really do add up.

Earn a free $5 by signing up with this link : Acorns Grow

While my first go to for retirement would be a Roth IRA with Vanguard, if you are set to max out your IRA in the tax year, Acorns is a great way to save more with no effort.

Viva!

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Brahman cattle look like they are melting. I first noticed this in Costa Rica but I have recently discovered that my neighbor owns a few of this breed.

Its like Salvador Dali painted some fucked up cows. That is all.

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That pretty girl you look up to on Instagram, the one always posting ‘modeling’ photos? She’s broke, her mom paid for her breast implants and she can’t pay her own rent without assistance from her family. Her lip injections are financed, most likely with Care Credit. 6 months same as cash, right? Nah, she’ll count on Mom to pick up that tab too. She is a liability to everyone around her and counts on you for her self esteem.

By far one of the best books I have read in my lifetime is The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy. I read it for the first time in 2013 and have listened to it twice on Audible since.

The greatest lesson in The Millionaire Next Door: the people that you think are wealthy are often times not. Being in debt in America is ‘normal’. Most are living paycheck to paycheck and do not own all of those shiny needless toys that their neighbors envy, the bank owns them. They truly are a slave to the lender.

This book is a wake up call. Read it. Dumb debt, live beneath your means and finally become free.

It is such a shame that the author, Thomas J. Stanley, was killed by a drunk driver last year. His studies were absolutely fascinating.

 

The Customer-Funded Business: Start, Finance, or Grow Your Company with Your Customers’ Cash

I was so absolutely excited about this book that I consumed it faster than most books I acquire. However, it left me feeling severely disappointed. Sure, many of the examples given in this book started out solely customer funded. But ALL examples ended up acquiring investors and or funds from other sources.

The synopsis reads :”Who needs investors?” Apparently, everyone in this book did.

The author also completely dismisses bootstrapping. Which in itself was questionable.

Sadly, I gained very little from this book.

As a business owner who does not intend on ever seeking investors or using debt as a way to grow my business, I could have skipped this book. I wish I would have.

 

Also: I listen to books daily on Audible. This book repeated a few names hundreds of times (example: Vente Privee and GUNTA (sp?). The names were repeated so many times that at one point I ended up screaming and skipping a chapter ahead. I hope I never have to hear these names again. Gah!

 

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For January 2016 I set a goal to target Instagram accounts with high amounts of followers for paid advertising and gave myself a $200 budget.

I personally have 13.7k Instagram followers (@aminabaker.exsect) and have always had great success with sales when posting items on my Instagram account. Why not target a much larger audience that just my personal followers?

I contacted Instagram accounts created and managed by private persons who curate handmade items. They offer to feature your item/shop/story for a fee. Usually $15-30 a feature. The fee guarantees the featured spot vs. wishful tagging and crossing my fingers for a feature (no time for that anyway).

I targeted 7 different accounts that collectively have 1,000,000 followers. I have features that ran or are scheduled to run on all of the following: @etsyusa @hellolovehandmade @handmadeloves @etsyfavorites,@etsyhunter & @etsyelite

My features are scheduled all throughout January-July 2016

I absolutely understand that ‘pay to play’ isn’t for everyone. However, I find it to be very interesting.

 

FEATURE REVIEWS:

Instagram @etsyusa : 106k followers – $31.50 a feature – 875 hearts on my feature

My Jan 30th @etsyelite feature was a success! I landed a huge wedding order of 100+ luggage tags plus a few other little sales here and there came directly from the feature.

Despite have a lower number of followers, @etsyusa has more interaction with their followers. I do recommend @etsyusa.

 

Instagram @handmadeloves : 125k followers – $25 a feature – 774 hearts on my feature

Ive seen no real ROI with my Feb 10th @handmadeloves feature. While I did have $427 in sales that day and 1007 views, there was no real difference in my stats from previous days this month.

There was an odd filter placed over my photo. Which is fine, but it looks a bit off.

ALSO, my @handmadeloves feature was scheduled for Feb 9th but was not posted. I had to email them the following day to inquire about why the feature was not posted. They then posted it that day.

For this reason, I would not recommend @handmadeloves

 

Instagram @etsyfavorites : 161k followers – $30 a feature – 1,156 hearts on my feature

I had a small uptick in direct views on the day of this feature. The featured item sold 3 times on the day it was featured. This accounts posts very often, sometimes up to 6 times a day. Your feature gets buried VERY quickly. Thus limiting the exposure.

 

 

Instagram @etsyhunter : 169k followers – $23 a feature – 1,460 hearts on my feature

I saw a HUGE uptick in direct traffic from this Feb. 15th feature. In fact, the most direct traffic views I’ve had in the past 30 days came on the day of this feature.

I also gained the greatest amount of new Instagram followers from the @etsyhunter feature (over 100) and the featured item sold 4 times on the day it was featured on @etsyhunter. This account posts 2-3 updates a day giving you far greater exposure.

I recommended @etsyhunter over all of the rest. I would personally use @etsyhunter again

 

My next feature is scheduled for March 14th on @hellolovehandmade

 

And so the adventure begins… indeed.

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How do you define success on Etsy? Is it possible to make a living on Etsy?

Yep.

My main Etsy shop shop grossed $90,000+ revenue in 2015. In 2016, my sales have increased by 33.41%, well on track to clear $120,000+ revenue in 2016.

But how could I ever know if that is considered to be “successful” among the 1.5 million sellers on Etsy? Etsy’s new rules allow for the use of manufacturing and staff (gasp!). If I am doing $100k a year as a single maker operated business, there must be hundreds of shops making 5x-10x that amount.

It is hard to figure out what success on Etsy looks like. Google “Etsy success” or “what is success on Etsy” and you will be bombarded with outdated articles, blog posts and Etsy forum threads. Etsy changes so rapidly that posts from 2014 are outdated. This blog too will soon be outdated, it is inevitable.

Craftcount lists my shop Exsect as the 15th top seller in the Leathercraft category. But only shops who have signed up to be ranked are listed here.

So WHO is successful on Etsy?

Shops with 1000 sales? 5000? 10,000+? Many high volume shops are suppliers with items that retail for under $5 or $10 with super narrow profit margins. Etsy success can not be weighed on published sales numbers alone.

WHAT is successful on Etsy?

As of this posting Etsy has 38,893,348 Items listed. Just 2 years ago I remember that number being 26,000,000. That is a crazy amount of competition and an insane amount of growth.

In the earlier days of the “treasury” front page, it seemed to be the same handmade panties, weird mini banners, you wash I’ll dry towels and concrete planters day in and day out. But these shops were not necessarily successful, they just had pretty photos that placed well with the other items in the treasury.

In 2016, treasuries are no more and with the newer constantly updating curated homepage, it can be very hard to know what is trending on Etsy.

Ive seen trending items on Etsy come and go : shabby chic, owls, chevrons, feathers, gypsy, rustic, foxes, sloths, personalized stamped jewelry, state specific items, tassels, french bulldogs, rabbits, cats, lace boot socks… fill your shop with these items and you may make a considerable amount of sales in a short period of time only to be left with a very dead shop a few short months or weeks later.

What do I know to be true?

I know one thing that is certainly true: To be successful on Etsy you MUST keep up with their SEO guidelines. If you do not, don’t bother listing. If you are not willing to consume the vast amount of literature that Etsy has made available to you in the Etsy Seller Handbook, don’t waste your precious time setting up a shop.

Another great piece of advice on Etsy : STAY OFF OF THE FORUMS. The forums are a time suck full of pessimistic, largely unsuccessful sellers whining about everything imaginable. It’s best to focus on YOU and your success.

If you list 10 items, only one many become a top seller. And in my case, the product that becomes the most popular is always the product I least expect to sell well.

And in closing, a small list of the most important things that helped me go from a revenue of $1900 in 2013 to $91,000+ in 2015:

  • Being proactive. Not reactive.
  • Doing my due diligence.
  • Discipline.
  • Sobriety.

 

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*Shipping monies collected are not calculated in the revenue numbers in the graph above.

**Exsect Inc. was closed for vacation for 3 weeks in September of 2015.

***Im not putting this screenshot here to brag. It is here just for income verification. So you know there ain’t no bullsh**.

 

 

Exsect Inc. is a single maker operated leather company with over 4,300 sales on Etsy. Featuring specialty designs, exclusive leather finishes, reclaimed leather creations and industry standard deviations.

Exsect Inc. is not your grandfather’s hobby shop.

Etsy: http://exsect.etsy.com
Website: http://exsect.com
Instagram: @aminabaker.exsect
Twitter: @AminaMunster

©2016 Exsect Inc ©2016 Amina Baker ©Amina Munster

 

 

My life is considerably different than I could have ever imagined. In 2010 I was living in a city I hated (Las Vegas) surrounded by a depressed, dirty community and was a broke, depressed, alcoholic smoker. It disgusts me to think about and repulses me to type out.

It may be cliche, but having children certainly does change you. Although I was rapidly changing years before our daughter Alexandria Hayes was born in 2014, her birth was the shock though my behavior system that I needed. The alcoholism in this family ends with me. The bad decisions end with me.

I quit smoking on October 4th 2013. Quit drinking on June 4th 2015. We have a funded SEP, IRA, 529 and a FRICKING COW FUND. That right, I have a special savings account for cows.

Clean air, clean living and cows.

It does get better. Big time.

 

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My husband is out hunting so I have time to mess about on Word Press. I have no idea what I am doing… pay no attention 😉

 

Image test… Exsect Inc. Antlers Logo

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