Sunday, February 22, 2015

SHS Book Club

I'm almost caught up with my book reviews! Here is the last batch from 2014 and all the way up to January of 2015. I've read two more books since these but I'll post on those later.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini--Five stars (I have loved every book he has written!)

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham--One star (I was surprised. I like Lena but this book wasn't for me.)

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry--Four stars

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline--Five stars

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld--Four stars (I loved American Wife by this author too; see review here)

Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money by Rachel Cruze and Dave Ramsey--Five stars

Still Foolin' Em' by Billy Crystal--Three stars

The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year--Four stars (What can I say, I love all things pop culture. It intrigues me.)

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult--Two stars

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Tips to Launch a Successful Kickstarter Campaign

You guys--I am so humbled by the success of my Kickstarter campaign. I seriously can't thank you enough for your encouragement and help. I'm so blessed to have good friends and such a great support system! Thank you!!!! My campaign ended on Sunday, Feb. 15. It ran for 30 days and was 117% funded!

That said, I've had a lot of people ask me questions. I want to help anyone else who is considering a Kickstarter campaign. I went into it having one idea of how it would turn out and ended up realizing that nothing will just fall into you lap without a lot of dedication and hard work. I really thought my idea would sell itself and I could sit back and watch the dollars roll in. Ha! No, it took some work, and knowing what I know now, I would have done more research beforehand. Here are some of my tips.

1. Never and I mean NEVER launch a campaign without a video. Do not expect that having pictures will suffice. Most campaigns without a video don't ever make it. Make sure that you watch a lot of videos before you make your own. I used Windows Movie Maker. It was easy and I'm no expert. Along with a video, make sure you have good music. You can't use copyrighted music. My ideal song would have been "Speak Life" by Toby Mac but using that would have been illegal. I downloaded a song I purchased from iStock.com.

2. Take good pictures. Pictures matter. Make sure your pictures are crisp and clean and void of clutter. The simpler the better.

3. Start a Kickstarter Instagram account. I didn't do this but now I've connected with people who did it and I think it is a great idea. Before launching their Kickstarter, they use that IG account to generate hype about their campaign. This is probably more common with campaigns seeking more money but even a small campaign would benefit. Develop an IG following and then launch your campaign. Those followers are a great first start for some backers. Go on IG and look up #crowdfunding and #kickstarter hashtags to see what is out there and what they are doing to develop a base before they launch a campaign.

4. Develop a straightforward business plan. Nobody will want to back you if you don't seem like you've thought through your business plan. Make sure to spell out exactly how you will budget this money. Show that you have a good head on your shoulders and are thinking through it all and taking it seriously. I made sure to spell out my plan in three key areas: Advertising, Trade Show Participation, and Stocking Up Inventory. Those are the three areas where my money is going.

5. Have a strong support base. Ok, so this is where I was completely taken for surprise. I thought most of my backers would be total strangers that are searching on Kickstarter. I definitely had that happen but only 25% of my money was funded this way. The other 75% were all people who I know. When Kickstarter tells you to let everyone and anyone know about your campaign, they aren't kidding. I have little Moo.com business cards that I would hand out if the subject came up. I sent email messages to my closest friends when the campaign started, halfway through and right before the end. I was terrified about bugging people. I hated the idea of posting it on my personal Facebook page. I think I said it in another post--failing publically seemed scary. I was so surprised how much encouragement and support I received. Also, think about the businesses who help you create your product. The vendor who supplies my snaps and rivets gave to my campaign (Minkus Margo). Kelly at Minkus Margo has become an amazing support for me. You never know unless you ask!

6. Use social media. I used Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, this blog, Twitter, and Reddit. When you use your social media, don't just announce it but hashtag the heck out of it. I was on the treadmill one day and watching the Today Show and Donald Trump's daughter was talking about the #womenwhowork hashtag. So I started using that hashtag. If something relevant was in the news like that, I used it. I attached pictures and posted links to my campaign on every Kickstarter-related post. Here's a type of image I would post:

7. Make sure to offer many different backer levels. I ranged mine from $10 to $150. Everyone is in a different place in life financially so make sure you offer a variety of backer levels. I was actually surprised at how many backers I had who just gave and didn't want a reward at all--7 of my 24 backers. Here are some images from my backer levels:

8. Take your time creating your campaign. There are many facets to the campaign--the video, the pictures, the backer copy for each level, the About Me section, the My Story section, and more. Don't think you can plan it all quickly and launch it just as fast. I took two months to develop the copy for my campaign. I studied other successful campaigns and thought carefully about my titles and descriptions. I wanted to make sure if people did a search that mine campaign would pop up.

9. Probably the most important piece of advice I have is to be extremely conservative in the amount you set as your goal. Every single day that went by without one single backer or very few page views (Kickstarter lets you see how many views you get), I questioned the amount I set my campaign for. At the halfway point I was 47% funded. I kept thinking about how if I'd only set my goal at $1000, I'd be there. I had to work so hard for that 47% funding. I just couldn't believe I was only halfway there. Remember that if you are only at 90% funding at the end of your campaign, you don't get any of it. Think about your support base and be realistic about your goal. Looking back, I am glad for the goal I set but at the halfway mark, I was pretty discouraged. Things came together at the end for me somehow, someway.

10. Last, make sure your rewards are realistic and that you will be able to deliver. The last thing you want to do is not deliver to the people who believe in you! Make sure you can deliver your rewards in a timely manner. Don't leave people hanging.

I am grateful to Leslie Mader, Jerry Honeycutt, Doug Steen and Fayth Sims for their generous support to my campaign. They gave at the $150+ level. Thank you to every single one of my backers. I am so grateful!

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

SHS Book Club--Even More 2014 Books

I met my Goodreads goal for 2014 and read a total of 28 books. Rather than review every single book here, I've been posting a collage of pictures of the book and giving my star rating for each book (this is out of five stars).


Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs--Three stars

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn--Three stars

The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls--Three stars

Spelling It Like It Is by Tori Spelling--Two stars

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman--Five stars

The Giver by Lois Lowry--Four stars

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith--Two stars

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt--Three stars

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak--Five stars

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Valentine's Day Bling

I can't believe we are coming up on Valentine's Day! Where does time go? I'm trying to not be so last minute this year and have been looking for ideas on Pinterest but more on that later!

First, the shop is stocked with blingy Valentine's cuffs ready to customize and is also stocked with red and hot pink braided leather cuffs. Both are really fun to stack. Kids love the colorful braided leather bracelets. So check out my shop! I can customize the cuffs with an inspirational message of your choice.

Now, back to Pinterest ideas. Don't you think Valentines have become so much more elaborate since we were kids? I stepped up my game last year with these Minion Valentines. Never again! But they were cute!

The year before we made felt heart pins. I felt better about these because I imagined the kids will pin these cuties on their jacket or shirts even days after. Cute, right?

This year I think we'll make these cute bookmarks. Easy enough!

My son won't be down with those so I found these cute hoppy ones. Check out Lil' Luna's site for these. She has printables and said you can find these cute hoppers at Target.

What cute Valentine's Day ideas do you have?

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

SHS Book Club--More Books Read in 2014

I'm finding it hard to keep up with writing book reviews. So, I thought I'd create a collage of the books I've read. Titles and ratings below (out of five stars). I hope to write more detailed reviews in the future.

Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites by Kate Christensen--Two Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green--Five Stars

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg--Four Stars

The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café by Mary Simses--Two Stars

The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons--Three Stars

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson--Four Stars

The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson--Five Stars

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter--One Star

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith--Four Stars

If you are on Goodreads, follow me here.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Kickstarter--Oh the adventure!

When someone suggested Kickstarter to me, my first thought was "no way, that sounds scary." I've posted links to my Kickstarter campaign on my Facebook page and Instagram feed and I figured it was about time I share about it on my blog. So click on link to view my video!

Kickstarter, if you didn't know (more on this later), is a crowd-funding web site where you post a video along with a dollar amount you'd like to raise and the reason you are trying to raise it. You offer rewards at different backer levels so as to entice people to give. If you don't meet your funding goal, you don't get any portion of the money people have backed. If you do, or even surpass it, you get that money for your specified purpose and you then have to reward your backers based on the dollar amounts they've given. Anyway, back to someone recommending it for me...I envisioned failing but not only failing but actually failing PUBLICLY. I'd much rather fail silently than in front of the world. But you know what? I really got to praying about it. Nothing worthwhile I've ever achieved just came easy and fell in my lap. So when I shifted my attitude I thought "ok, let's do this thing!"

Kickstarter encourages you to share about your campaign with every single person you come in contact with. Share, share, share. Every. Single. Person. Ugh. Not my personality. It's one thing if someone comments on the leather cuff that I'm wearing. Perfect opening. It's a whole other thing to just tell people you are trying to raise money. I was at the eye doctor today and was so close to sharing about it and giving him my card but I just couldn't do it. He's a super nice guy I enjoy chatting with him and is even a USC alumni and we talked about his kids trying to get into my kids' school and I invited he and his wife to a special night we are having at the school. So I really had an opening to just give him my card and be humble but I couldn't. I have to go back and get my lenses so maybe I'll get braver. I'm working on it....

I'm sure he wouldn't have minded and of course I would never let anyone feel pressure. It is just good experience to share about your company and product and general. I'm learning that people don't really understand what Kickstarter is and when you share it with them they are so congratulatory and excited for you without knowing that they can actually help you. I hate to say it is a generational thing but I think it is. Most people under 35 get it automatically. Anyone over that age (my MIL is an exception--yay Les!!!) doesn't understand that you are asking them to participate. But that's fine. I am just happy people are happy for me.

So I will share with you my blog followers what I'm doing because I am safe behind my computer giving you my spiel. I'm a crafty person at heart. I love to create. It makes me happy. I love thinking of new things to create and building upon current designs. I love hearing people tell me how much they love their sweet cuffs and what an encouragement they are to them. I feel like I've found my thing. This is a corny story but my dad would make leather goods as a kid. I remember his leather tools in his rolltop desk. His family would make fun of him--this little boy making leather accessories and selling them. Oh how I wish I had his tools today. When he tells me his leather stories I laugh because it makes sense why I love working with these leather cuffs and bracelets so much! It's just, well, fun. Each cuff is different and has a different sentiment. Also, I've met people who have very sentimental items of their loved ones--belts, straps--who want to turn those items into a cuff they can wear to keep with them close every day. That's beyond cool.

So, I've started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $2K to grow my business so that I'll be able to advertise, take part in a popular local craft fair and increase my inventory. I offer rewards starting at the $10 level. Every little bit helps me. I have 25 days left to raise money. I'm 10% there. It's an UPHILL climb no doubt and I've shared on IG, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, email and more. I have asked my husband and friends to share my FB post. Honestly I don't know that I will hit my mark. I'm going to do my very best. I have a PR/Marketing background so believe me that the wheels in my brain are always turning. If I don't hit my mark, well, actually I'm not even going to go there. I hope you can help me either by backing me or spreading the word. Thanks for listening. If When I do hit my mark, I'm so happy to share my tips with you if you want to launch a campaign. Either way I think I have ideas and am happy to share them.

I've moved my shop to Etsy from Big Cartel. So my shop link is now here.

You can find me on Instagram @sillyhappysweet.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Premade Cuffs for Sale

I have a few premade cuffs left for purchase. See images below. Shop link here. If I get it in the mail by Wednesday (12/17), it will likely arrive to its destination by Christmas. Get yours today!



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