15 Ways to Get E-mail Subscribers

If you read my previous blog post on why you should have an e-mail list for your business and decided to go for it, then, well… awesome! But now you might be wondering, “Okay, smart-ass, so how do I get more people than my mom to actually sign up for it?”

I’m glad you asked.

There are lots of things you can do! In fact, here’s a whopping list of 15 different ways to get e-mail subscribers so you can hook those new readers and build your numbers fast.

1. Have a place where people can actually give you their e-mail. (This sounds like a DUH piece of advice, but hear me out.) If you have a website, this is generally the opt-in box (like the one I have on my sidebar for this blog), or if you are only on Etsy at the moment then it’s the page created through your e-mail provider with your opt-in that you can direct people to with a link. (However, if you’ve been considering getting your own website, then having one even just for a landing page to send customers to give you their e-mail addresses and direct them to everywhere else you are online is a very valid reason to start, among others.)

E-mail opt in example

2. Have a pop-up on your website. Yes, these things are annoying. Yes, everybody hates them. But at least for now, they work! You can make them less annoying by having a delayed period before they show up (the one on my website is twelve seconds), or even get all advanced and have it so the popup will only show up the first time someone comes to your site, never to show its face again, depending on your visitor’s cookie saving settings.

3. Bribe people. (Otherwise known as an opt-in incentive.) This can be an e-mail in exchange for a discount, free shipping on their first order, a free sample (like the one I offer on this blog of my Run a Handmade Business and Keep your Day Job course), a care guide or your products, a free gift with their first purchase, and so on. Get creative and see what free goodies you can pass along! (Just be careful not to do anything that will get so expensive it puts you out of business!)

4. Let them know what they’ll actually be getting in their inbox. Will you be passing along style advice? Tutorials? Early bird sale specials? Weekly jokes? Inspirational images? Whatever it is you will be e-mailing your list, let them know! There will be people who will sign up simply because they look forward to what you’ll be sending their way, and it helps to set up their expectations properly.

5. Run a contest. Make the prize something awesome (and relevant to your business, you want to be collecting the right e-mail addresses here) and require that people have to give you their e-mail address in order to enter. Make some bonus entries available if people share the content with their friends, spreading the word and the number of e-mails you’ll have the opportunity to collect.

An example of a contest I ran on my website a couple of weeks ago.

An example of a contest I ran on my website a couple of weeks ago.

6. Have someone else run a contest. Use the same requirements as above, but partner with another blogger or website so you can gain their readership and the exposure of their audience along with your own. You could even team up with multiple sellers to all pitch in for one big, awesome prize that no one would be able to pass up.

7. Add the link to your sign-up page in the “message from seller” portion on the orders you get from Etsy.

8. Add a sign up box at the bottom of your blog posts. If someone has read all the way through one of your posts, there’s a good chance they want to keep hearing from you!

9. Collect e-mail addresses at craft shows. (Hint: offering the chance to win some kind of prize in a random drawing will increase the number of sign up you get.)

10. Add a link to your sign up page in the bio paragraph on your guest posts. If the guest post is awesome, the readers of the blog you are posting for will want to keep hearing from you, and signing up for your list is their way to do just that.

11. Invite your social media followers to sign up. Every now and then your Facebook fans and twitter followers need a reminder. Also, you can place your sign-up link in your About page or in your profiles to increase the chances your followers will act on it, and include a tab for sign-up on your Facebook page depending on your e-mail service provider.

The e-mail sign up tab on my Facebook page

The e-mail sign up tab on my Facebook page

12. Ask your current followers to share the love. Something as simple as asking them to invite 1 friend to join in the fun at the end of one of your newsletters should get at least a few of them to act, even more so if there is something in it for them! (A coupon for them… and their friend perhaps?)

13. Give your list some exclusive advantages… and mention these advantages in passing to the people who aren’t on your list yet. Remarking in a blog post, for example, that the people on your e-mail list got an additional 10% off during your last sale, or were the only ones given access to your latest, secret collection of products will make everyone else feel left out–and motivate them to join in on the good times.

14. Put a link to your sign up page in your personal e-mail and forum signatures, if and where links are allowed.

15. Pay attention to what other brands are doing. Great ideas come form industries that have nothing to do with yours. Observe how other small and large businesses are persuading list-sign ups and let their tactics inspire you to come up with some of your own.

 Have any other ideas for us? Share your own list-building tactics in the comments below!

When Your People Don’t Support Your Business

friendship and reading

Your people: they include your friends, your family, your acquaintances, your mutual friends, your connections, and so on.

You heart your people. But they are people, which mean they don’t always behave or respond the way you might want them to.

For example…

Ask a room full of new small business owners how their family and friends feel about them being in business, and you’ll undoubtedly sense the atmosphere tense up.

Why is that?

You love your business, and you’re so excited about the possibilities and opportunities it represents. You love learning about more ways to run it efficiently, and your soul lights up every time you think of a new product line or marketing idea. So why can’t your loved ones feel the same way?

(By the way, if you’re reading this and thinking, “Well, they all DO feel the same way!” Then fair play to you. Go ahead and skip this blog post and treat yourself to some spicy apple cider and cinnamon cookies. Or better yet, treat your loved ones to those things, because they totally deserve it for being such good sports. As for the rest of us… read on.)

Hang on there, though! Before you give out an exasperated sigh and whine about how much you wish your peeps would back you up, there are a couple of things I want you to consider.

The first thing is the most obvious: if your peeps are criticizing or discouraging you it’s probably for the right reasons. Meaning, they have good intentions, even if their actions are misplaced.

For example, when your friend suggests that you tone down your business activities so you can make room in your weekly schedule to work a part time job, for example, she’s probably concerned that you’re going to run out of money soon. Most people have a difficult time grasping the slow-build concept of most businesses (most don’t make a profit in their first year or two) and are genuinely concerned for your livelihood. That’s a true friend who’s worth keeping, and taking the time to explain yourself to.

Likewise, when your spouse starts to question all of the craft store purchases made to the family credit card, it’s worth taking the time to explain yourself to relieve his or her anxieties. It’s not always good enough to say, “You gotta spend money to make money!” when you could present a more formulated business plan with projected sales growth that would ease everybody’s state of mind. (And might not be a bad idea for you to do for yourself, anyway, just to make sure you’re on the right track.)

Finally, there is the possibility that some of your peeps might be envious of your success. When your sister knocks you for getting to “stay home all day and watch Netflix” it could very well be because she is resentful of her own “regular” job and wishes she had your courage to chase her own dreams. Instead of getting angry or defensive, instead, consider empathizing with her to get to the root of the hurt behind the snide remarks. Taking the time to explain, for example, that your business wasn’t always such a reliable source of income, might give her a view of what is really going on inside your home office space. Sure, it might occasionally include season-binging on the tube while producing your latest line of bracelets or ankle socks, but it hasn’t come without its share of anxious late-nights finishing up on orders, months where you weren’t sure whether or not the light bill would get paid, and your fair share of disgruntled customers, learning curves, and technical headaches.

Finally, it never hurts to hint to your peeps that running a business can feel lonely. Even if they can’t understand exactly what you do, let them know that you appreciate their ears when you need to vent about the latest search engine algorithm change, or that you appreciate their ideas for upcoming blog posts.

It’s easy to become so submerged in the world of business that we often forget how little the outside world thinks about or understands much of what we do. It never hurts for us to explain a little bit more, and empathize a lot more, when confronted with doubts or questions we may at first feel affronted by.


The Big Secret to Creative Business Success

Fill in these blanks for me, will ya?

As soon as I have _____, my business will be successful.

As soon as I get _____, my business will be successful.

As soon as _______ notices me, my business will be successful.


So many of us, particularly those of us in the beginning, growth stages of our business, tend to think like this. As if there is just one thing we need to accomplish or get or offer, and then our cash flow worries and business stresses will fall by the wayside.

Our mind tells us things such as, “When I get my e-mail list over 1,000 subscribers, then I won’t have to worry about where my next sale will come from.”

Or… “As soon as I finish developing my latest collection, then I’ll have so many customers I’ll have to start putting people on a waiting list!”

Or… “If only I can get a major magazine to feature one of my products. Once that happens, my business will be successful forever after.”

The problem being, of course, that even what these kinds of big things happen, they don’t magically solve all of our business woes. Not in the same way we imagine they will. (Sometimes, they can cause even more headaches than we can anticipate, but that’s for another post.)

We keep waiting for success to be this big thing that suddenly happens to our business as a result of a single action or event taking place.

The real picture, as many successful entrepreneurs will happily tell you, is very different.

Creative Business Success

A business that continues to grow and thrive, especially in the handmade world, is one that generates and celebrates a continuous series of small wins. The smart business owner learns through experience that it’s all of these small wins building on top of one another that equals “the big win.” There usually isn’t a single event that their success can be tied to.

Success, as boring as it sounds, comes form showing up and working every day. Systematizing your schedule so that you are doing something everyday that will contribute towards the growth of your business. It might be networking, PR outreach, sales and marketing, product development, content creations, or all of the above.

In any case, it’s the businesses that don’t get discouraged and keep going–who know that slow and steady wins the race–that will come out on top at the end.

Big and splashy is fine. Talent is great. But a solid foundation, dedication, and everyday commitment and contribution is more valuable for your business in the long run.


Tutorial: Chainlink Loom Bracelet

southwest bead loomed braceletMaterials used:

Beading pattern (source: Megan’s Beaded Designs)

Delica bead colors 771,  221, 734, 763 & 3×5 Antique Brass Flat Oval Chain (source: Auntie’s Beads & Supplies)

Nymo beading thread & needle

Tan fabric

Jump rings

Lobster clasp

Standard bead loom

Step 1:

Cut 18 13-15 inch lengths of thread.

Cut thread lengths

Step 2:

Tie the collection of equal-length threads together on either end,

Tie threads together on both ends

Step 3:

Place the group of threads on the beading loom, separating each thread by the spaces within the loom’s spring.

separate threads on loom

Step 4:

Tighten the loom, so that one end wraps the excess thread around its spool.

Tighten the bead loom's spool

Step 5:

Cut two equal lengths of chain, the size of the beaded portion of your bracelet. (In this example, 6 inches.)

cut two bracelet length pieces of chain

Step 6:

Thread your beading needle with a long length of thread to work with, and tie the end of it to the edge thread on the un-spooled side of the loom.

tie your thread to inner loom thread

Step 7:

Thread on the first bead of the design and thread through the first link of the chain for the tip side of the bracelet, and then back through the first bead, attaching the chain to that side of the bracelet.

thread through chainbead-loom-tutorial-8

Step 8:

Thread on the rest of the beads of your row, and separate them so that each bead is push up between two of the loom’s threads, with the final bead dangling at the end of the row.

bead loom row

Step 9:

As you did with the top of the row, thread your needle through the end link of the other piece of chain, and thread your needle back through your first row of beads, keeping it above the threads of the loom to secure each bead in its place.

bead loom tutorial

Step 10:

Add two more rows of the pattern, continuing to loop through the chains on both ends.


Step 11:

Thread back through your work to come out an end of your first row.

Step 11 bead looming tutorial

Step 12:

Weave your thread over and under each of the individual threads, back and fourth several times to create a 1/4 of an inch of tightly woven thread for an end cap.

bead-loom-tutorial-13 bead-loom-tutorial-14 bead-loom-tutorial-15

Step 13:

Thread back through your beginning rows and continue to follow to pattern to complete your beading. Unspool and tighten the threads to achieve the desired length on your bracelet. Repeat step 12 at the opposite end of your beadwork.

bead loom bracelet instructions

Step 14:

Add some glue to the end caps of thread on both end of the bracelet. Let dry and remove from the loom.


Step 15:

Cut off the loose threads and cut out two rectangle piece of fabric that, when folded in half, measure just over the length of the thread caps on your bracelet.

bead-loom-tutorial-18 bead-loom-tutorial-19

Step 16:

Apply more glue to the thread caps and fold over the piece of fabric over each side. Let dry.

bead-loom-tutorial-20 bead-loom-tutorial-20-1

Step 17:

Cut out two lengths of 10-links of chain and link both end to either end of the chain attached to your bracelet on both sides.

bead-loom-tutorial-21 bead-loom-tutorial-22

Step 18:

Finish off both ends of the bracelet by attaching the jump rings over the loops of chain added in the previous step. Add the lobster clasp on one end, and multiple jump rings for optimal size on the other.

bead-loom-tutorial-23 bead-loom-tutorial-24


Is Your Business Holiday-Ready? Check the checklist to see.

The holidays can be a frantic time for most businesses. Heck, they are a frantic time for EVERYONE, but especially business owners. And MOST ESPECIALLY product-based business owners. (You know, those of us who are actually producing and selling the presents and stocking stuffers that get passed around, re-gifted, then passed around again in late December.)

It helps to be be prepared.

And the best time to get your ducks in a row? You guessed it: YESTERDAY.

But don’t worry, right now will work just fine.

Use this checklist to make sure your business is holiday-ready.

Because, better late than never, right?

Holiday Business Checklist

___1. Inventory is stocked and organized.

If you create made-to-order items, this is the time to make sure you have enough supplies on hand to meet the demand of orders, or at least make sure you can quickly and easily access additional materials from your suppliers. If you lean towards finished pieces, now is a great time to stock up on your best sellers and holiday-themed items.

___2. Packing materials–once again–stocked and organized.

You do not want to run out of bubble mailers or packing tape mid-December. Paying retail is expensive, and the post office is basically the worst place on earth to be that time of year. Do yourself a favor, and make sure you’ve got enough to “last the winter” before the madness hits.

___3. Plan upcoming sales and marketing.

Having your editorial and marketing calendars filled out NOW prevents you from scrambling when, Oh, crap! It’s Black Friday and we don’t have anything scheduled! When you set  date for major business events, then you can work backwards and plan what content to use in your e-mail marketing, social media, blog, and so on.

___4. Complete, photograph, and list holiday collections.

If you have any lines that you haven’t completed yet, now is the time to get ‘er done. (You may virtually smack me for writing those words. I completely understand.) You will be too busy marketing, shipping, and handling customer service come November to be designing holiday sets. Besides, December is when you ought to be getting your Spring collections ready anyway (oh dear, I think I just overwhelmed myself.)

*Whew* Deep breath… onward!

___5. Sign up for Craft Shows.

Planning on joining the craft show circuit? Most holiday shows have hit their sign-up deadlines, but there may still be some local school or church fairs looking for vendors. Most of these are first-come-first serve, so you don’t want to dawdle much longer.

___6. Check your shipping dates.

It’s best to know ahead of time when it’ll be the last day to order to get guaranteed-shipping-by-Christmas is. Most people shopping online during that time of year will be looking for gifts, and you’ll save yourself many a customer-service headache if you can clearly communicate their receive-by dates before they hit the buy button.


All checked? Yippie! That means you are ready and rearing for the holiday season!

Unless I missed something? If so, please let me know in the comments below so we can all add it to our checklists.

Should you open another Etsy shop? What to consider first.

Should you ahve more than 1 etsy shop

Because I frequently make mention of the fact that I juggle 4 Etsy shops in addition to my website and other selling platforms, I am often asked by fellow handmade sellers if it would be a good idea for them, too, to open up more than 1 Etsy shop.

The not-so-simple answer is, of course, it depends.

There are a few factors you should take into consideration before you jump on board the more-than-one shop train.

The first is of course, do you have the time, energy, and gusto to market all 4 of your shops enough to enable each of them to earn sales? There is a lot to it when it comes to harboring a successful Etsy shop, most of which people don’t realize when they sign up for one.

I can personally testify that where you direct your energy is where the flourishing happens. (click to tweet this!)

Do you feel capable of pouring your energy in multiple directions without diminishing the results of any of its locations?

If you’ve answered yes to the above considerations, then you are probably fully capable of hosting more than one Etsy shop. However, this still does not mean that you should.

Often times people think that they should open up more than one shop because they create two different kinds of products. Say, for example, they knit scarves as well as make beaded bracelets.

More than one product offering does not necessarily mean more than one shop is required, however.

If both products are created for and directed at the same target audience, then why split them up? You want the same people to be looking at both selections, so there is no need for you to perform double your marketing efforts in order to get the right eyeballs where they need to be.

On the other hand, if your two products are in fact for two totally separate audiences, then it might be a good idea to consider splitting them into two separate Etsy shops. For example, the people who buy my jewelry from my MegansBeadedDesigns Etsy shop aren’t typically the same people who buy the more cutesy jewelry from my Glamour365 shop. Likewise, the people who buy my ready-to-use glass eyes from my SteampunkDream shop aren’t the same as the DIYers who buy my eye designs collage sheets from my MegansCreativeDesigns shop. So it makes sense that I have these 4 Etsy shops split up to avoid confusion and overwhelm.

Finally, you may want to consider ahead of time the pain it can be to have to sign in and out of your account in order to check up on all of your varying shops. If you primarily use a tablet or smart phone to manage your Etsy shops, it can be frustrating to miss out on incoming customer requests or sale notifications until you get around to signing in and out of each shop. (If you’re on a desktop, then I recommend using multiple browsers so that you can stay signed in to all of your shops at once, if you want to be.)

So, in conclusion, yes, it is completely possible for you to handle more than 1 Etsy shop. If you think it might be the right decision for you, then I suggest moving slowly, building up each shop until it is systematized and established before adding another. The less overwhelm you can create for yourself along the way, the better.



Why It’s Okay to Get Paid for Your Art

Why its okay to get paid

Artists can be finicky when it comes to asking for money.

They don’t feel okay about doing it, so when it comes time for the transaction to take place, many creators of handmade goods ask for far too less than their work is worth.

(And just to be perfectly transparent, I’m personally guilty of this, too.)

Why do we feel this way?

A big reason is that, deep down, many of us feel that by selling our work we are making our buyers poorer in order for us to get richer.

To put it another way: they have money before the sale, and afterwards we get the money. The seller wins, right?

This line of thinking is, of course, flawed.

Consider: if we became poorer every time we bought something, we would gradually becomes desolate and eventually run out of money and end up homeless and starving, from the holiday shopping season alone.

When someone buys one of your creations, they don’t become poorer as a result, because they are receiving something of value in exchange for their currency.

That’s all that buying and selling really is when you break the concept down to its core: an exchange of value for value.

When a seller creates a widget worth x, and sells it to customer for x, no one has lost any value. The same amount of value has changed hands.

Value, can in fact, be added to the widget, creating even more value into the world.

Say a retailer buys a creators widget on wholesale for x. Then said retailers adds the value of a shopping experience, customer service, and expertise. So when the final customer buys the widget for the marked up price of y, the widget is in fact worth y. Finally, the owner of the widget may add personal sentimental value to their new widget, giving it a priceless value that is not even quantifiable with numbers.

There are only two ways in which selling something for money makes a member of the exchange poorer.

The first is when someone is asked to pay more in the currency form of value than the product is worth. (Aka: magic diet pills that don’t actually do anything, warranties with enough fine print to ensure that absolutely nothing will actually be covered, etc.) This is what artists feel like they are doing when they sell their work, but they shouldn’t.

Because your work is valuable.

You’ve spent years honing your craft and ages perfecting your designs and hours creating your product lines. You’ve brought your expertise and aesthetics to the table. Your work is always improving, and your products are becoming a better and better fit for your customers. The value of your work increases along the way.

Which brings me to the second selling exchange from which a member of the transaction can be made poorer as a result. It’s when something of value is being exchanged for less currency value than its worth.

In this case the creator or source of the product actually becomes poorer by selling.

(Consider: why resource-rich countries are so poor.)

In a transaction where an artist or creator does not ask for a worthy exchange of value currency for their work, value is not being properly added to the world, and one side of the transaction loses.

It’s like trading 5 apples for 3 apples. The value exchange isn’t balanced, causing an overall loss of value in the universe.

(Sorry. Got a bit woo-woo on you there.)

But I’m thinking you’re starting to get the idea. You lose and you make yourself poorer when you do not properly value your work and ask for the currency exchange it is worth. By paying yourself a low or nonexistent wage, you are doing a disservice to the entire selling economy, in both the handmade community as well as on a global scale.

Food for thought, anyway.

Wanna share some thoughts? Post ‘em in the comments below!

What I wish I would have started earlier

An e-mail list: it’s the one thing I wish I would have started 3 years earlier. But alas, life is too short for regrets and we can only move forward, which is a heckuva lot easier if your head isn’t craned around to see what’s behind you.

There’s you’re wisdom for the day, ladies and gentlemen. Completely free of charge.

Anyway, back to my main point:

Why I have an e-mail list and why I think you should get one too:

Reason #1:  Snag visitors before they forget you forever.

People come into your website from all sorts of places. Some will come in through a Google search, perhaps stumbling across one of your blog posts or product listings. They may like what they see, even enjoy browsing your site a bit, but if they leave without dropping off their e-mail address there’s a very good chance they’ll forget about you completely, never to return.

It’s not you, it’s them. Really.

They probably even left with the best of intentions to come back, but without the chance that they’ll get any e-mail reminders, it’s slim to none that they’ll remember to drop back in as they go about their busy lives where a million other distractions are vying for their attention.

Reason #2: E-mails wait patiently.

Social media is great, but whether or not your followers will see your posts depends a lot on what time of day you post – and whether or not that corresponds with the time of day they are interacting on the same social media site. Places like twitter and Instagram move so quickly, you are only having your statuses seen by a tiny fraction of your followers with each post. Likewise, Facebook will only show your updates to a handful of your followers to deem its interactive quality before they show it to a greater amount of your fans. The likelihood of any of your posts seeing ALL of  your followers is virtually impossible.

With e-mail, the message you send to your list will wait patiently in their inboxes until they decide to open it or delete it, for however long it takes.

E-mail sign up form example

The popup e-mail sign-up form on www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

Reason #3: E-mail is more intimate.

If you’re getting the right people onto your e-mail list, then you know that most of them are very interested in your products – even if they haven’t purchased anything yet. This means you get to be more targeted with your message, and allow your list to feel like you are speaking directly with them (because you are!) You can also offer exclusive insights, free value-laden content, and VIP deals to let them know you appreciate their loyalty.

Reason #4: It can help you turn in-person buyers into online shoppers.

By collecting e-mails at craft fairs and art shows, you can get more of your local customers to check out your website or online marketplace shop. This, in turn, can lead them to not only purchasing from you at their computers, but more recommendations from them to their friends and family who perhaps don’t live in the nearby area.

(As you probably know, word-of-mouth advertising is the best kind there is.)

Reason #5: You can segment and automate your message.

Most e-mail service providers give you the option of breaking up your list into multiple segments. For example, my list is broken up by my subscribers here on this blog, and those who sign up at my website. Obviously, the people who sign up here are more interested in business advice and jewelry-making tutorials, whereas the people who sign up over on my website are more interested in the finished products and style advice.

Two separate lists on the same e-mail provider makes my life easier.

Furthermore, I can write and set up my e-mail newsletters as far in advance as I want to go, scheduling them ahead of time. This way, if I get backed up with other tasks or want to take a vacation, I don’t have to worry about falling behind on getting in touch with my audience.


There are plenty more reasons why an e-mail list is a good idea for your business. This post merely scratches the surface.

So, rather than waiting until you wish you would have done it earlier, why not get started setting up your e-mail list today?


Oh, and speaking of e-mail lists:

My Top 5 Business Book Recommendations

While I continue to love getting lost in the griping, page-turning pages of a fiction novel, I still intersperse a business book or two in-between bouts of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman over-indulgence. I recommend the following list of my favorite business books because they are either enlightening, clearly applicable, and/or incredibly motivating. While implementation is always required in order for any of the words of wisdom you will learn to take effect, arming yourself with new business knowledge can give you the means to outline the steps that will allow you take your business forward into the direction of your choosing.

1. The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin

The Icarus Deception by Seth GodinThis book is a must-read for all creative-industry members. It centers around several major themes, including the Pick Yourself generation (we not longer need to wait for permission from the gatekeepers), and removing the self-set limitations of flying too high. This is an incredibly uplifting business book that will motivate you to not only create, but ship, your art.

2. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Ever wondered why some things on the internet go viral and why some don’t? Why some commercials get shared on social media and others get blocked as annoying ads? This book, with lots of interesting and entertain example, explains. It will not only give you some hints on how to market your own products, but it will leave with you some fascinating insight on why some of the big brands advertise in the way that they do. You’ll never be able to look at another piece of marketing the same.

3. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

This incredibly motivating, easy  business read will pump you up to act like a professional and do the work. In my favorite concept highlighted within the first section of the book, Pressfield encourages artists to think of their art (their business) as a separate entity for whom they work for. Just like when you go to work at your day job, you need to show up and do the work, whether you like it or not. Inspiration comes after you get busy creating, not before.

4. Manage Your Day-To-Day by Jocelyn K. Glei

Manage Your Day to DayThis is the perfect reference book to keep on hand and re-read when your daily schedule starts to slip. It is filled with easy-to-follow advice from top entrepreneurs on how to set goals, manage daily schedules, and take much-needed breaks. A must-read for creatives who constantly find themselves overwhelmed and easily distracted (like yours truly.)

5. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

The E-MythWe creative types aren’t know for our love of systems. I have never claimed that organization and attention-to-small details were my strong suits. I have, however, felt scattered, unprepared, and overwhelmed when handling all of the bits and pieces that make up my business. There is inventory to be managed, marketing to scheduled, orders to be shipped, live shows to plan for, and so much more. It’s a lot, when you look at all of the pieces that make up the whole, even for a small-scale handmade business. Throughout The E-Myth Revisited, Gerber explains what steps businesses need to take in order to stay in business, and not fall trap into some of the common pitfalls that claim over 80% of small business owners. It’s not the most captivating read, but it very well could be the most enlightening. This single book prompted me to make the necessary changes to how I organized my inventory, scheduled my marketing, and planned future product lines. If you only read one book from this list, The E-Myth Revisited should be it.

You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone

Allow me to re-phrase the common saying “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” to the following:

You don’t know what you’ve been putting up with until you move on.

Let me explain.

Last week the 5-minute storm of the century blew through my neighborhood in Spokane, WA. It was short-lived, but the wind and hail did about as much damage as it could mange as it passed through. Trees were uprooted and fell on people’s houses, cars, and so on.

Power lines came down. Electricity was knocked out and the lights went dark.

Photo from spokesman.com

Photo from spokesman.com

My husband and I were lucky. We lost our power, but not our roof, or any other major damage to our residence (or persons!) to speak of.

However, this bring me back to my point.

Growing up, I lived “back-woods poor,” which roughly translates to living out in the woods without running water or electricity. Standard commodities I’ve gotten used to in my old age. ;-)

When I was a kid, we hauled our water in, melted snow and ice on the wood stove to take showers in the winter, and went without fresh fruits and vegetables until our garden could start sprouting again (we were usually sick during these months, probably for this very reason.)

Before you start thinking that I grew up in some hippie-utopian paradise, let me correct your line of thought. Going without plumbing and power lines is HARD WORK. We didn’t realize how much we were putting into maintaining what we had until… of course… we didn’t have to live like that anymore.

Now, coming back to present-day, I go a few days without being able to run the microwave or turn the lights on (not to mention use the internet!) and I’m stressing over how long the food in the fridge will last and trying to figure out alternative ways to print out shipping labels for incoming orders.

Needless to say, I realize now just how much trouble I had been putting up with as a kid, living without the standard conveniences I have since learned to rely on.

I’m not saying that we’re wimps for getting used to having flushing toilets or frozen chicken, quite the opposite, in fact.

I can’t believe how long my family put up with scraping by and barely making it when it would have made so much more sense to “give in” and allow the inventions of the twenty-first century allow up to spend our time on more sophisticated, life-growing experiences.

To bring this to a smaller scale, business related example, it made me think of how long I put up with the work-arounds on Etsy before finally taking the plunge and building my own website.

For nearly 3 years I dealt with small inconveniences such as limited product sections, the inability to live link outside of Etsy, hosting my blog on a separate platform, having to compete with every other shop on the site within the search results, and so on.

While I still think its beneficial to maintain my shops on Etsy for several reasons, it wasn’t until I started to build my own Highwire site that I learned how many options and potential could be harnessed with my own site and domain.

Aside from operating on Etsy alone, some other limitations you may be dealing with without even realizing it are having your blog hosted on a .com platform, using a camera with poor quality images that require much more editing than you would need to conduct if you had better equipment, and so on. Sometimes you can’t realize what you’ve been putting up with until you move on, but sometimes, if you take a step back and really think about it, you can get a sense of what you’re ready to upgrade in order to make room for your business’s growth.

What are some of the things on your ready-to-upgrade list? Feel free to share in the comments below!