Where to Sell your Products for More Profits

Recently, I wrote about my experience with Etsy suspending my shop.  You can read about it here. It was in that moment that I realized the importance of diversifying income streams or methods.  Since Etsy reinstated my account, my sales have been way down and views have been, too.  It just so happens that Etsy has made some major changes over the past several months and my shop would probably have taken the hit whether I was shut down or not.  But I’m pretty sure losing 2 weeks of up time didn’t help matters.

Etsy has been my sole source of income for quite some time, with the exception of a few sales here and there on Facebook and Jane.  But, since my nightmare came true a few months ago, I’ve been looking for as many ways to diversify my income streams as possible.

For those of you who sell on Etsy, or have a handmade business like mine, there are several avenues that you can get involved in that will start bringing income from multiple platforms instead of depending on just one for all of it.  It’s easy to put all your eggs in one basket but it’s not the smartest move.  Perhaps you don’t sell on Etsy but have considered it.  I’ve included them in my list for consideration, but with warning.

Not all of these platforms may work for your business, but they are certainly worth taking a look at.

Just so you know, this post contains some affiliate links.  Click HERE to see the full disclosure.

where to sell.png

Selling takes time.  And, just like selling, building a business on any of these platforms takes time and hard work.  The key is consistency, knowing your market and appealing to your market the best you can.  Anyone can have success on any of these platforms, but none of them are guaranteed to bring success to you overnight.  Be patient and stay the course.  Your hard work will pay off!

ETSY – If you read my post about Etsy, you’ll understand my reservations so I won’t list them all here.  Etsy IS a platform for selling your handmade, vintage, craft supply and wholesale goods.  Just be careful not to solely depend on Etsy.  Add a few other platforms to your income plan.  If you decide to sell on Etsy, use my link HERE and you’ll get 40 free listings!  It normally costs $.20 per listing, so this is a great deal to get you started.  There are a lot of changes taking place in the Etsy company right now, so stay abreast of those changes so you can adjust accordingly.

FACEBOOK – If you aren’t on Facebook and you have a business, you need to stop right now and GET on Facebook!  A business page is a must.  If you’re a product-based business, you can list your items on your Facebook page and market them to your audience.  There are numerous Facebook groups that exist for the sole purpose of promoting each other’s Facebook pages…and Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media accounts.  You can also join the TONS of buy-sell-trade groups on Facebook where you can sell your goods.  Just be sure to read the rules of each group as some do not allow business promotion, or will allow it only on certain days.  I’ve sold lots of items on Facebook through groups, my business page and even on my personal page.  It’s worth it.

JANE.COM – Jane is a flash sale-type site where sellers “apply” to sell an item and, if approved, it is scheduled for a three-day flash sale.  There are inventory requirements and other rules that apply, but it can be a great way to make some good income in just a few days’ time.  Jane does take 25% of your sales, so be aware of that before pricing your items to ensure you make a profit. Not all my items get approved, but the ones that do tend to sell well.

BELLECHIC.COM – Bellechic is another flash sale-type site.  It seems that Jane has a larger following, but Bellechic can be a great income source if you have the right product to sell.

BONANZA.COM – I recently discovered Bonanza as an additional platform for selling my products.  What I like about it so far is that you don’t pay anything to list, Bonanza advertises for you and you select the amount of advertising based on the commission you’re willing to pay for that advertising.  The base commission is 3% and goes up to 20% and there are several options/levels to choose from.  You’re able to import products from several other selling platforms, like Shopify and Etsy, so listing is fairly quick other than tweaking shipping and other details.  It’s FREE to get started, so why now?!

SHOPIFY – Shopify is the platform that I decided to use for my personal online retail site. It costs about $30/month to have the site and you only pay for apps that you purchase and for credit card fees from collecting payments for purchases.  Shopify allows you to upload your listings from other platforms such as Etsy and a free app allows you to list as many variations as you need.  This was a big seller for me.  There is a blog function within Shopify, but I link to my WordPress blog.  You can purchase custom themes or use one of their free themes.  There’s even a drop shipping app that integrates seamlessly with the site.  It’s not hard to use and it functions quite well.  Customer service is awesome, too.

eBay – You might think of auctioning sports memorabilia or cars when you think of eBay. Well, think bigger!  You can sell anything and just about everything on eBay – and you don’t have to list auction style.  They have a Buy Now option (which is what I use for my products) so you can set your price.  They often run free listing promos but listing fees are low anyway, depending on how many bells and whistles you want your listing to have.  There is a selling fee, which varies by product/sale price/and other factors.  I’ve sold quite a bit on eBay, much to my surprise.

AMAZON HANDMADE – When I launched my Shopify site, I was able to integrate with Amazon as well as several other platforms (eBay, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.), so I began selling on the Handmade portion of Amazon.  I had sales almost right away, so I knew it was going to be a great platform.  It costs nothing to list.  You pay around 15% when you sell an item.  Just be sure to pay attention to the rules and make sure your listings are well-detailed, especially your shipping and production times.  I ran into an issue with Amazon because of this; I’m still working that out.

When it comes to diversifying your sales platforms, my attitude is that if I sell one item on eBay a week, it’s one more item that I’ve sold that otherwise would not have!  Every sale counts, so what do you have to lose?  Especially with the free listing options that are out there.

So tell me, where do you sell?  I’m sure I’m missing some great options!  Please share them in the comments below.

 

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A Comprehensive To Do List for Every Blog Post

Just so you know, this post contains some affiliate links.  Click HERE to see the full disclosure.

I don’t know about you but, without a list for everything, I would be completely lost.  I have lists of lists, it almost becomes ridiculous.  OneNote is my best friend when it comes to keeping all of my lists in one place.  It syncs with my phone so I can take it with me everywhere.  I finally retired my hard notebook once and for all…well, almost.

When I started blogging, I became overwhelmed with all there is to do before and after you hit “publish”.  From spell check to tweeting, there’s too much for my mind to remember.  I began looking for a to-do list and found many on Pinterest and Google. However, I found myself pulling from several different lists in order to get everything done that really needed to be done with my blog posts.  That’s when I decided to compile my own list using a bunch of other lists so that everything was included in one comprehensive, bulleted and sectioned list.  It’s my go-to for every blog post now and I thought I’d share it with you as a FREE download you can print.

A few highlights from the list I want to point out include the following:

Proofread – more than once!

There’s nothing worse than hitting “publish” only to find that you’ve used incorrect grammar or misspelled a word.  Mistakes happen and even spell check doesn’t catch everything.  That’s why I use spell check and Grammarly, then I proofread myself.

SEO

I’m not sure if you can overdo SEO.  If you’re not familiar with Search Engine Optimization, I highly recommend you read up on it and become familiar with how to use it in your posts.  Google uses it and, since Google rules the online world, it’s pretty important.

Links

Make sure you go through the trouble of adding the correct links to any websites you mention.  And, when you do, be sure to have the link open in a new window.  Otherwise, the reader may never make it back to your blog.  If you use affiliate links, be sure you add a “no follow link” in the HTML box.  And don’t forget to disclose!

Images

In addition to having good images, make sure they fit your brand.  Add alt text to your images that will show up on a Pinterest pin and other sharing means.  Canva is a great tool for creating images to fit your brand and they have pre-sized templates for different social media postings such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Social Media

Unless you share your posts, the likelihood of tons of traffic showing up to read them is very slim.  That’s where social media comes into play.  I recently started using a couple of scheduling tools that save me TONS of time and they’re very affordable.  Buffer allows you to schedule posts to all of your social media accounts at once.  It’s a dream!!  If you use Pinterest (and I do a lot!), Boardbooster is incredible.  You can schedule campaigns, have pins loop from designated boards, and more.  It’s cut my time on Pinterest in half or more!

There’s more of a breakdown on the downloadable to-do list, so grab it in the link below:

blog to do list before and afterBlog To Do List- Before and After

I realize my to-do list is long but I err on the side of doing too much than not enough. Even with that said, I feel like I’m missing something.

What else do would you add to the list?

8 MUST HAVE Tools for your Silhouette Projects

 

I sell a lot of custom items in my online boutique…custom vinyl decals, custom signs, custom mugs and more.  I also do heat press items such as t-shirts and bags.  Both of these jobs require a set of tools in order to make the job easier and more efficient.

If you’re just starting out and want to make projects for your home, family and friends, that’s awesome! Shopping for the right machines and tools, however, can be overwhelming. There are so many brands and options, not to mention opinions and reviews.  It can be a daunting task.

With nearly 5 years of experience with both my Silhouette Cameo and my Heat Press, I’ve settled on what essentials I cannot do the job without.  I thought I’d share my list in hopes of helping you make your decisions as you shop.

Just so you know, this post contains some affiliate links.  Click HERE to see the full disclosure.

First, let’s tackle the vinyl cutting machine.

Silhouette Cameo – there are a few different versions of this machine.  I’ve used the original Cameo and now have the Cameo 2, which I love.  I’ve heard mixed reviews on the Cameo 3 in the past, so I’ve waited on upgrading.  It usually takes a little time for them to work out all the bugs.  By now the Cameo 3 should be good to go.  So if you need a machine to get you started, I’d recommend going ahead with the Cameo 3.  And, since you don’t have any tools or accessories yet, I recommend going with a bundle.  A bundle includes more than just the machine itself and is usually a better deal.  There are several bundles to choose from and, after sorting through them, I found one that makes the most sense for beginners.  This bundle includes the following items:

  • Silhouette Cameo 3
  • 24 Sheets of Permanent Oracal 651 Vinyl – 12 Inch x 12 Inch Each (Many other sellers don’t put the size and ship 9”x12″), Assorted mix of 24 Sketch Pens (Double the Ink of Previous Silhouette Pens)
  • Autoblade – Auto Adjust Blade to Match Cut Job Material, 12 Inch x 12 Inch Cutting Mat, Vinyl Trimmer, Ratchet Adjustment Tool, Scraper Tool, Hook Tool or Spatula Tool
  • Vinyl Instructional Guide by Silhouette School – Silhouette Studio V3, Online Cameo 3 Instructional Class – Reduce your learning curve and get crafting faster, 1 Roll 12 Inch x 6 Feet of Premium Transfer Tape
  • 1 Month Membership to Silhouette University, 1 Month Membership to Silhouette Club, $25 in digital downloads from Silhouette’s Design Store ($25 Code is accessed during registration), 100 EXCLUSIVE DESIGNS, CUSTOMER SERVICE & PRODUCT SUPPORT, Studio Software for Windows Vista / Windows 7 and higher and Mac OS X 10.5.9 and higher, USB Cord, Power Cord 110V-240V.

Fiskars Trimming/Cutting Tool – when cutting your designs on the Cameo, you’ll want to save as much extra vinyl as you can for future projects.  This cutting tool is the one I use and it’s so much faster than pulling out the scissors.  If you’re using rolled vinyl, the cutting tool also makes it easy to insure a 90 degree cut.

Needle Nose Tweezers – your bundle comes with a weeding tool and that will work fine for the 651 vinyl.  Although, I’ve found that a seam ripper works just as well (if not better).  When it comes time to week the heat transfer vinyl, you’re going to want something that can grab the vinyl while you’re weeding.  That’s where the tweezers are a life saver.  They have sharp ends that can get into the tiniest of spaces and they pick up those pieces like a breeze.

RTape AT65 Transfer Tape – this is a must for transferring your cut designs onto the surface of your project.  I’ve tried contact paper, transfer paper, painter’s tape and a couple other kinds of transfer tape, but RTape AT65 is my go-to for transfer tape and has been for a few years now.  It has a medium tackiness to it so it sticks to your vinyl but also lets go when removing it from the surface and releasing the vinyl.  And, ordering 100 feet at one time will last you a good while.

Silhouette 24″ Cutting Mat – eventually you’re going to want to make bigger projects with your Cameo.  Since the 12″ mat won’t accommodate any larger than about 11 1/2″ in length, the 24″ cutting mat will be necessary.  You can cut without a mat but, if you’re not careful, you could waste vinyl from slippage.  There’s nothing worse than cutting 2 feet of vinyl without a mat only to find out after it’s cut that the vinyl slipped or it cut crooked.  I recommend investing in a 24 inch mat for that purpose.

CB09 Blade – the ratchet blade that comes with your Cameo works perfectly fine and, if you keep it clean and maintained, it can last a long time.  I’ve had blades last a year before needing to replace them.  As you really get into the vinyl cutting (and you will because it’s addicting!), the CB09 blade is going to be a WONDERFUL addition to your toolkit.  This  blade comes in different angles which you can change out depending on the material you’re cutting.  And, for really small or intricate designs, this blade is a dream.  It cuts clean and perfectly…it’s really quite something.  I highly recommend it!

Now let’s move onto the heat press.  I just started doing heat press items in the last year and have really enjoyed the variety it adds to my work.  You can do so much with a heat press and it doesn’t require a lot of tools beside the press itself:

  1. Power Press Heat Press – this is the heat press I have and love.  It’s 15×15, which is a good size for doing t-shirts and other projects like pillows, towels and bags.  The Power Press is easy to use and easy to adjust temperature and pressure.  It will fit on a table or counter space and doesn’t take up a ton of room.  It’s fairly heavy, so I wouldn’t exactly call it portable; however, if you need to move it out of the way when you’re not using it, it can be done.  I have a cart with wheels that mine sits on so I can move it around if needed.
  2. Teflon Sheet – some heat presses will come with a teflon sheet.  In fact, my Power Press came with one.  If not, then you’ll need to get one and use it every time you press anything.  It protects the project from melting or scorching.  I recommend going with the 18″ size teflon sheet.  It’s a little larger than the heat press, but you can actually attach it to the top panel with magnets all around.  I’ve done this so that I don’t forget to use the teflon sheet!  If it wasn’t attached, I know I’d ruin so many projects!

Besides the heat press and teflon sheets, there aren’t a lot of necessary tools.  Of course, you can purchase attachments for doing hats and mugs but they aren’t a requirement to get started.  There are a few other helpful items you might want to have on hand.  The tweezers mentioned above are going to be your best friend when weeding heat transfer vinyl., so keep them handy.  You might want to purchase a couple heat press pads.  These are foam pads wrapped in heat resistent fabric (think ironing board) and are used to put inside shirts or pillows to protect from buttons on the other side of the shirt or zippers, or to add extra cushion to get good pressure.  A pair of scissors will come in handy for trimming around cut projects to save extra material and also to minimize any “clouds or shadows” around your pressed items.

I hope this list is helpful to you.  Perhaps you’re a veteran crafter and have other go-to tools that you swear by.  I’d love to know what they are!  Please leave them in the comments below.

5 Reasons NOT to sell on Etsy

5 reasons not to sell on etsy

Four years ago, I decided to open my first Etsy shop.  So excited and hopeful for great success, I waited eagerly for my first sale.  Two weeks later, cha-ching!  My first sale!!  I was ecstatic.  I couldn’t wait to sell more and more.  When I first started out, I was selling vinyl monograms I made with my vinyl cutting machine.  As I grew, I began to incorporate handmade items I made with reclaimed wood – signs, trays, lantern sconces, and more.  Fast forward 4 years and Etsy had become my full time gig.  Now a single mom, I depended solely on my income from Etsy to pay my bills and put food on the table for my son and me.  Things seemed to be going great.  Or so I thought.

Then one day in April, I get an email from Etsy.  Here’s what it said:

Hi there,

This is Clark from Etsy’s Marketplace Integrity team. I’m getting in touch to let you know that Etsy has removed one or more items from your shop in accordance with our Seller Policy.

Etsy is a unique marketplace intended for buying and selling handmade goods, vintage collectibles, and crafting supplies. Etsy may remove listings if they do not qualify for sale in any of our selling categories or if they violate our Prohibited Items Policy.

After reviewing your shop, we have found it necessary to remove one or more non-qualifying listings for:

  • Commercial and/or resale items listed as Handmade. All items that you list in our Handmade category must be made or designed by you, the seller. Reselling is not allowed in this category. You can read more about this here: https://www.etsy.com/help/article/4522

As a one-time courtesy, we’ve refunded you the listing fees associated with the removed item(s). To see your deactivated listings, visit Your shop > Quick links > Listings Manager and click “Inactive.”

You can also use this link to directly view your inactive listings: http://www.etsy.com/your/listings/inactive

The items we’ve removed in this circumstance may only be an example of items that are in violation of our policies. As the seller, it’s your responsibility to review your remaining and future listings to ensure that they qualify for sale on Etsy. If you continue to list non-qualifying items, then it may result in the suspension of your selling privileges.

Additionally, since these items are not in compliance with our policies, we ask that you delete the production partner profile you’ve created related to these items and refrain from listing additional items that they produce.
To edit your production partner profiles, you can follow these steps:
  1. Click this link: https://www.etsy.com/your/shops/me/production-partners
  2. Click the X on the right side of the business’s name.
  3. Click “Delete” in the profile overlay.
Thank you for your attention to this. For any questions about Etsy’s selling policies, please reach out to us at integrity@etsy.com.
All the best,
Clark
Etsy Marketplace Integrity
First of all, am I not a human being?  Can you not address me by my name? Secondly, I don’t purchase and resell anything on my shop.  Everything is handmade or has handmade, personalized or customized components, like the majority of the shops on Etsy.  I responded back quickly defending my position and asked for an explanation.  I never heard back.  Nothing.

Needless to say, I was SHOCKED and SCARED.  I thought, surely this is a mistake. What are they even talking about?  What policies am I breaking?  What did I do? What am I going to do?  How do I fix this?  Are they going to shut me down next? Why are they going after me?

This was the day I realized I’d really screwed up.  I had put all my eggs in one basket…the Etsy basket.  And now that basket was basically squashed.  I went into survival mode, aka panic mode.  I had to fix this and quick.  This is my livelihood.  My sole source of income.  I immediately put all my attention on setting up my own personal website with all my products.  It took the good part of a week to get it done, but I did.  Thank you Shopify.  I was up and running within a few days, and my listings were even feeding over to Amazon and eBay.  I started getting sales pretty quickly and soon was nearly doubling my income from Etsy.  The more time went by the more I got to thinking that things mAy be okay with Etsy.

Then, this past Tuesday, May 16, I get this email:

Hello,

This is Etsy’s Marketplace Integrity team. Our records indicate that we’ve previously contacted you about violations of Etsy’s selling policies in your shop. Because we’re continuing to see these policy violations, your selling privileges have been suspended.

Upon review of your shop, we found that you are still listing items which do not qualify for sale here. This is in direct contradiction to the email we sent you in the past. As we explained, Etsy is a marketplace with specific policies about what can be sold, and we take these policies very seriously. All items for sale must fit into one of our three main categories – Handmade, Vintage, and Craft Supplies. You can read more about Etsy’s marketplace criteria here: https://www.etsy.com/legal/sellers/?ref=list#allowed

We want you to have a successful shop on Etsy. However, if you are unable or unwilling to comply with our policies, we may have to suspend your selling privileges permanently.

If you are interested in regaining your selling privileges, I ask that you do the following:

•  Review all of your listings and remove any that don’t meet Etsy’s policies. Your items can be found in your inactive listings.
• Write back to me confirming that you understand our policies and intend to abide by them in the future.

You will still have access to your account and items while your account is suspended. Please note, however, that while your account is suspended, you will be unable to access the Sell on Etsy app or mobile-optimized browser view.

To edit or remove listings from your Etsy shop, please take the following steps:

1. Sign in with your Etsy account from your desktop or laptop computer.
2. Follow this link to your inactive listings: http://www.etsy.com/your/listings/inactive
3. Click the dropdown gear button on the bottom right-hand corner of a listing that needs to be edited or removed. (At this time, there isn’t an option to bulk edit or delete your listings. You will need to repeat this action for each listing in question.)
4. Click “Edit” or “Delete” on the dropdown menu

Should your shop be reinstated after this confirmation. This will be your final opportunity to comply with Etsy’s selling policies. Further policy violations will result in the permanent termination of your account privileges.

Please do not open up additional Etsy accounts for buying or selling while we work with you on this. They will be closed immediately and without notice. Please be aware, you remain obligated to fulfill any open orders by shipping the items or issuing a full refund.

Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Regards,

Etsy Marketplace Integrity

Again, this email didn’t even have my name on it, or the name of my shop.  It was a canned, generic email with no specifics.  Except to say that my shop was suspended. I panicked again…what am I going to do now?  They actually shut me down.  I can’t sell ANYTHING on Etsy now.  And my website is still brand new.

I reached out to Etsy every way I could find…I called customer service numerous times, emailed Etsy Marketplace Integrity…numerous times.  Although I was able to talk to customer service, they couldn’t see my account nor could they tell me why my account was suspended.  They just kept telling me they’d forward my notes on to the right department and someone would be in touch within 24-48 hours.  But not by phone…by email.  I called every day hoping I’d get a quicker response, but no.  Three days went by.  Nothing.  I finally awoke to an email this morning.  I was infuriated when I saw that it was the same email, word for word, that I had already received from them.  I had specifically requested they give me examples of the listings they were referring to that went against Etsy policies.  I got nothing.  No explanation.  I quickly emailed back asking again for specific listings they were referring to.  I sited several shops on Etsy that sell the very same items or types of items that I sell and asked why they could buy I couldn’t. And now I wait.  Again.

While I’m waiting, I decided to write a post about this experience so that no one else has to go through this nightmare.  I’m learning quickly that there are several reasons NOT to sell on Etsy and I want to share them with you.  I may come up with even more, but these are at the top of my list at the moment.

ETSY CONTROLS YOUR BUSINESS.  YOU DO NOT.

As much as I promote having my own business and treat it like it’s my own, it isn’t. Etsy owns it 100%.  And that’s a scary realization.  I’m really promoting Etsy.  After all, when someone purchased from my shop and was asked where they got it, chances are that customer said they got it on Etsy, not on PlushBrentwood.

ETSY CAN SHUT YOUR SHOP DOWN ON A WHIM.

Just like that.  No warning.  No reason.  And no personal explanation.  Just BAM. You’re shut down and there’s not a lot you can do about it.  I’m living this nightmare as I write.

WHEN ETSY SUSPENDS YOUR ACCOUNT, YOU CAN’T TALK TO A LIVE PERSON.  

It’s true.  You can talk to customer service, but they are useless in this process.  They can’t tell you why you were shut down, which listings break the rules.  In fact, I had one guy tell me to take down a bracket I had on my shop.  So I did.  But then he said he wasn’t sure if that was the reason I was shut down.  I asked to speak to the integrity department and he said I can’t.  They don’t have phone support.  They only email.  Really?  My career is literally in their hands and they don’t have the courtesy to even talk to me about it over the phone?

THEIR POLICIES ARE SUBJECTIVE

Talking to customer service, I get one answer.  I get an email with a different answer. There is no continuity in the answers you get.  Therefore, their policies are completely subjective.  The one guy didn’t understand what was wrong with my lantern sconce. But the email I got said it broke the rules.  What the heck?

THEY DON’T REALLY CARE ABOUT SELLERS.  

This I already knew.  After all, they are a business and they’re in this for the money. Part of me thinks, “why do they care what I sell?  They’re making money every time I hear a cha-ching.”  But to have no personal support available to its sellers is absolutely unacceptable.  Even an email with my name and shop name would go a long way.  They just don’t care.

So while I wait for hopefully a solid explanation, I’m frantically marketing and trying to get business to my website.  It’s insane.  This should not be.

I write all of this to say to you: Don’t do what I did.  Don’t rely on one source of income. Diversify.  Distribute your eggs to several baskets!  Don’t let someone or some other company control your business.  It’s wrong and it’s not worth the pain and agony I’m going through right now.


UPDATE 5/27/2017:  I FINALLY received a personal email from Etsy.  Although they would not go through all of my listings, they did point out one item I had listed that needed to be deleted.  So I did, immediately.  I responded back right away letting them know I deleted it as well as a few other questionable items.  Within 10 minutes or so, my shop was active again.  I received another email telling me that my selling privileges were reinstated; however, they do not vett all listings and it’s my responsibility to make sure they comply with policy.  Next time, I’ll be terminated for good.

So, for the moment, I’m back in business on Etsy!  Since there’s no way to know if THEY believe my listings comply, I can only hope that they do as I move forward.  What a nightare it has been.  I’m glad I have my own website set up and running…just in case this happens again.

Grab these deals

Sometimes I run across deals that even I can’t get as a business owner.  Either the seller buys in massive bulk or they just know of a source that I’ve yet to discover.  Since I’m always looking for a great deal, I enjoy passing the savings on to you, my customers. After all, sharing is caring, right??

Just so you know, this post contains some affiliate links.  Click HERE to see the full disclosure.

I shop a lot on Amazon.  A lot.  I mean, everything from envelopes to mattresses.  Really. I guess that means I’m on Amazon a lot, too.  As a result, I happen upon some great deals from time to time.  Better prices than the department store.  And when an item is large and bulky, like a mattress, you can’t beat Prime shipping.  Delivered right to your door instead of having to lug it through the store, then load it into the car and unload it when you get it home.  I’m all about convenience these days, so Amazon Prime is one of my best buds.  If you don’t have Prime, you can get a 30 day free trial here.

Here are some recent purchases I’ve made from Amazon Prime that I’m quite pleased with.  Perhaps you’re in the market for one of these items as well.  Check out my review and link to that product.

MATTRESS AND BOX SPRING

My son was in dire need of a new mattress and I had no idea until, one day, I was in his room looking for something and noticed a huge crater in the middle of his bed. He’d been sleeping on this awful mattress for who knows how long!  I immediately went to Amazon and starting looking for reviews on memory foam mattresses.

mattressbox spring

I came across this one and was impressed with what people had to say.  It’s a cooling gel memory foam mattress, 10 1/2″ thick and comes in a box that is about 3’x3’x5′.  For the price, I felt like it was a pretty great deal.  I found a foldable box spring to go with it, also on Amazon, and had it delivered as well.

Two days later and with no trip to the store or paying for delivery, Will had his new mattress and box spring.  It was simple to put the box spring together (you literally just unfold it) and the mattress filled out nicely once we opened the plastic bag it was in.  He absolutely loves it.  I slept on it one night when guests were in town and, he’s right, it is super comfortable.  What a great deal!

INK CARTRIDGESink cartridge

The more money I spend on ink cartridges the more I’ve learned that Amazon usually has the best price.  I go through a lot of ink in my business, so I need to save as much as I can when it comes time to order replacements.  I’ve tried the refills and the generic brands, but it just seems like nothing lasts as long as the genuine HP brand.

PACKING TAPEpacking-tape.jpg

Whether you’re moving or shipping packages, tape and boxes are expensive!  I ship tons of packages every week, so I go through lots of tape.  Amazon is my go-to for the best pricing on durable packing tape.  Cheaper than Sams or Costco.

ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSERdiffuser

I always love the smell in the air when I go to the spa and even some of my friends’ houses.  Essential oils in a diffuser…love it.  I finally broke down and bought this one for my bedroom.  Love it so much I got one for Will’s room as well.  It’s inexpensive, but it works great and runs all night.  It has an auto-off feature when the water is gone, so I appreciate that safety feature as well.  It’s easy to operate and clean.  And it’s compact, so it fits on my nightstand nicely.
I can’t give away all of my finds in the first post, so I’ll pick it back up next week with some more deals to be had!  Until then, happy shopping!

Change is good

After four years exclusively selling on Etsy, I’ve taken the leap of faith and started my own website!  Etsy has been a great experience and I’m uber grateful for the business it has enabled me to build.  Over 4,200 sales and a solid five-star rating; I couldn’t be more proud.  Etsy does have its limitations, however.  They’ve basically controlled the bulk of my business since 2013 and have dictated what I can and cannot offer my customers.  While that worked for a while, it has become more and more inconvenient!

A couple weeks ago I opened my laptop to check my Etsy shop activity. Unbeknownst to me, Etsy had removed 5 of my listings from my shop…not just any five.  Five of my BEST SELLERS.  No explanation.  Just gone.  Needless to say, I panicked.  As I described it to my BFF, it felt like my husband had just announced he wanted a divorce.  I immediately went into survival mode.  My business is my financial lifeline.  It pays my bills.  Puts a LOT of food in my sixteen year old football-playing boy’s mouth.  I cannot lose business like I knew I would because of this.  If Etsy was powerful enough to take away business from my shop, who’s to say they didn’t also have the power to shut me down completely at their own whim.  I couldn’t sit back and wait for that to happen.

The following hours and days were consumed and solely focused on creating a new stand-alone website.  I didn’t have the money to pay someone to whip up a site for me.  I did it.  All by myself.  From scratch.  It’s not perfect and I’m not in love with it, but it’s functional and hopefully soon-to-be profitable.  It literally took every waking moment of a full week to get it to where it is today, but I’m grateful for the ability to have been able to do it on my own.

I’m a single mom now and my son is sixteen.  With only 2 years left with him (essentially), I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what my future looks like.  I have some goals and plans that are going to require more financially than what my Etsy shop has afforded.  I love to travel and visit with my close friends who live far away and that requires money.  Not to mention I have college expenses right around the corner.

That said, the Etsy scare lit a virtual fire under my tail.  I planned to eventually have my own website, just not quite this soon.  It’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time.  I’m hopeful that my business will grow by leaps and bounds and that I can offer all the things to my customers that I’ve been holding back on for so long.

Thank you to all of you who have supported me and my business through Etsy.  I hope you’ll continue to stop by from time to time at my newest location, PlushBrentwood.com.  I’ll be adding new items often so there will always be a reason to visit!

True Friends

They’re hard to come by…and even harder to keep for very long.  When you go through tough times you learn that those who you thought would be there aren’t.  I’ve found through the years that having one or two thick-and-thin friends is a treasure to hold close to my heart.10891751_10204652774192136_6110608999017941856_n(3)

I just hugged goodbye one of my closest friends ever who came for a quick overnight visit.  We’ve been best friends for 20 years.  We’ve been through a house fire, two marriages, a divorce, three kids, car accidents, surgeries, business ventures and a host of other experiences during that time. We’ve had great times and not so great times.  There have been moments when I was not the best of friends to her.  But she’s never written me off or given up on our friendship.  She’s a sister to me and I couldn’t be more grateful.  Sandy’s a one of a kind friend.  She’s fun and crazy, straight up and wise.  She is one of the most supportive people in my life and she loves the Lord.

When Sandy and her husband moved away 4 years ago, it broke my heart.  I felt like a piece of me was gone and I literally mourned her move as a loss.  But we’ve managed to stay close and it’s as if she’s still a mile away when we talk.  But there are plenty of times when the 6 hour distance by car is torture.  I realize I need her more and more the older I get.

I love you, Sandy.  And I thank God for your friendship and sisterhood for so many years…may we share many more to come!large_friends-forever-title.png

Stuff I should Know

Ever think, “now I should know how to do that” when you see something smart on Pinterest or elsewhere?  I do…often.  So, I sharing some of my favorites with you and perhaps you’ll agree that you should know about them, too!

 

  1. Do you ever eat a fresh spinach salad and find your teeth feeling strange and chalky? You’re not alone. “Spinach teeth” is caused by the high quantities of oxalic acid found in spinach. The oxalate crystals leak out from spinach as you chew, and these cryWhy Does Spinach Make My Teeth Feel Funky?: stals coat the teeth, which results in that gritty feeling.  And it doesn’t just come from spinach! Rhubarb, beets, kale, and chocolate are high in oxalic acid as well. Beyond that strange dental sensation, this acid increase your risk of oxalate stones in the kidneys, so people with a predisposition for such issues should steer clear of eating large amounts of spinach.  The oxalic acid contained in spinach can also prevent your body from absorbing iron. To improve iron absorption, spinach should be eaten with foods that contain vitamin C. So the next time you’re chowing down on some cooked spinach, be sure to squeeze a little fresh lemon on top!
  2. Signs of a heart attack in women7 Warning Signs of Heart Attack In Women -PositiveMed | Positive Vibrations in Health:
  3. When to use ice vs. heat :
  4. How to jump a car                                                         Girls. You NEED to know this.:
  5. Place setting Setting a Table ~ might come in hand if you are hosting a Christmas dinner party:

I’d love to hear some of your smart finds of other things I should know! Share them in the comments below!

Caesar Salad

I love Caesar salad.  The kids love Caesar salad.  We all like it a lot.  And I finally found a recipe (without anchovy paste) that we all crave, and it’s super easy to make.  I like to make my own croutons, too, so there’s an added bonus recipe here for you as well!

Caesar Salad and Homemade Croutons (from http://pearlsandpasta.blogspot.com):

  • caesar3 “Heads” of Romaine Lettuce
  • 3 large cloves of garlic
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. In a food processor, chop the garlic, salt, and pepper together until the garlic is as finely minced as possible.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients MINUS the parmesan cheese (lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, mayo, and Worcestershire sauce). Give it a good blend (for about 20 seconds.
  3. Add the parmesan cheese, give it a quick mix in the food processor and store in a covered container.
  4. Serve with fresh romaine and homemade croutons.

For the Croutons:

  • 1 loaf of fresh Italian, french or other great bread
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted, or 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Rosemary
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper

Preheat oven to 325.

  1. Slice bread about 3/4″ thick.
  2. Brush each slice with butter or olive oil
  3. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper
  4. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and cut slices into cubes.
  6. Put back in oven for additional 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool.  As they cool, croutons will become crunchier.

5 of My Favorite Flash Deal Sites

I’m forever looking for great deals on all the things I purchase…from business supplies to groceries.  And since sharing is caring, I thought I’d start to pass along those discoveries to you!  So, as I find great deals on various items, I’ll post them with a link so you can get there quickly and see if you can take advantage of the savings.

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  1. Jane – this site is mostly geared towards women and mothers.  From clothes to home decor, Jane has a slew of adorable items at discounts of 30-80% off retail.  But hurry, quantities are limited and the sale only lasts for 3 days.
  2. Tanga – I scored a set of Beats ear buds for less than $40.  Clothing, electronics, purses, and more…Tanga is always on my radar.
  3. Joss & Main – I could do some serious damage on here!  They have beautiful home and garden items, sometimes at incredible prices.  And, shipping is FREE for 30 days for just $9.99.
  4. Wayfair – Free shipping on orders over $49!  They have a great variety of home decor and storage items, gifts and furniture…and often for less than other sites.
  5. Amazon – If you don’t shop on Amazon and have an Amazon Prime account, you’re really missing out.  I do so much shopping on Amazon that sometimes I forget how awesome it is…gazillions of items with free 2 day shipping and it’s my go-to for anything and everything that I shop for.  I always check Amazon’s price before buying and, many times, I end up ordering from them because of the price/shipping.

What are some of your favorite deal sites?