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The Year in Pictures

year in pictures

Here is a look back at the year 2016. Yup, it’s the year in pictures of what happened over the past 365 days at Chocolate Dog Studio. Enjoy!

This is actually just a sampling — there are so many other things that have happened this year! We added grandkids to the family, did some deep cleaning and some home repairs, spent lots of time together as a family, and graduated one from college. We have laughed more than cried; crocheted more than torn out; loved more than ever. It’s been a good year!

May your New Year be better than last year and full of love, joy, and laughter.

Happy New Year,

Karen

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The Giveaway You’ve Been Waiting For!

Time for a giveaway!

I have been thinking about having a giveaway for a long time. My biggest question is always: What should it be?

Yarn?

Patterns?

Supplies?

Finally, I ran across these little gems on Etsy — they are so perfect. They fit in beautifully with the fingerless glove patterns I have been writing recently.

Giveaway Teaser

https://youtu.be/aQauxFaYOUI

Aren’t they adorable?!

They remind me very much of Shaun the Sheep and the Wallace and Gromit videos that my children grew up with. They are handmade, simply cute, and fun! I asked the lovely Anita to convert them to lobster claw from rings so that they would work great with crochet. (We just need different tools with crochet.)

I have gone years without stitch markers but these take the cake.

I am offering you two sets of these lovely sheep stitch markers, one to keep and one to give to a friend. Or, you can give both of them away. They make fabulous Christmas gifts!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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The video above was created by T. Stewart and D. Stewart. They did a great job, don’t you think? It’s so fun to finally see it all come together for this giveaway!

Giveaway Dates

The giveaway runs from Nov. 18-25, 2016. Sign up for the email list, and follow me on social media for your entries. I can’t wait to discover who the winner is and share the name with you!

Talk to you later,

Karen

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30 Things to Improve Your Business

Time for a giveaway!

Being an online business owner has its ups and downs. Often, there are “slack times” when it isn’t quite time to release a new product, yet our creativity has taken a nosedive. Since your business won’t run itself, I’ve come up with 30 things you can do to improve your online business beyond making more items to sell.

(This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small percentage of the sale. Your cost is not affected by this, and I truly appreciate your business.)

The Top Ten

  1. Write a business plan; every business must have one of these.
  2. Create an ideal customer, so you always know your target audience.
  3. Rearrange your shop; get customers to look around a little more.
  4. Check item descriptions for grammar and misspellings; improve the wording.
  5. Rewrite your About Me pages to create a simple, quick glimpse of who you are.
  6. Check tags to make sure they are currently the best descriptions of your items.
  7. Put items on sale and get rid of those that aren’t in keeping with your current shop profile.
  8. Rewrite your profile pages and have a good photo taken for your headshot.
  9. Create posts for social media, and schedule them to go out at regular intervals.
  10. Back up your computer; your work is too precious to lose!

30 things - top 10

Photography

  1. Check your photos; make sure none are blurry.
  2. Update your photos to give your shop a cohesive look; customers should be able to tell they are your photos by their style.
  3. Watermark all photos used for your business.
  4. Crop photos to “portrait” layout for Pinterest pages.

Automate

  1. Do an Internet search to discover ways to streamline or automate more of your business.
  2. Consider using the Etsy Twitter-fu app to tweet for you every day, several times a day.
  3. Write up and schedule social media posts; check your Page Insights to figure out the best time to share posts, then schedule your posts accordingly.

Marketing

  1. Pin your shop items to Pinterest; make sure the graphics are pin-worthy.
  2. Rewrite your pin descriptions to include your shop address, website, and tags for the item.
  3. Clean up Pinterest boards; get rid of non-pin-worthy pins; sort your pins into new board categories to encourage your followers to look around a little more.
  4. Be social on social media; build business relationships. (They used to call it “networking.”)

Learning

  1. Read books and blogs about successful online businesses and how they succeed.
  2. Pick up a copy of Michael Hyatt’s book, Launch, for ideas on how to launch your items for sale.
  3. See what the competition is doing.
  4. Check your shop stats.
  5. Figure out what is selling, what isn’t, and why; be honest with yourself.

Clean – Organize – Edit

  1. Clean up and delete old document files; create folders for different topics so you can find your stuff easier.
  2. Clean up your studio and organize it.
  3. Delete all trash from your computer’s recycle bin.
  4. Edit all your online listings to have a cohesive look.

Total: 30 Things

There you have it: 30 things to improve your business! Do them during a down time, or, better yet, complete one item a day for a month. At the end of the month start over again. Add new items to the bottom of your list as you cross off completed items from the top. Keep your list constantly rotating as you work your business, and you’ll soon find your business is working for you.

Talk to you later,

Karen

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Autumn and Creativity

It is raining here in Oklahoma, and the weather has been so warm–it is supposed to be Autumn. At least today the weather is cooperating (with the season) by being drearily wet. The temperatures lately are reminding us that, while it is late September, it still has the capacity to be in the eighties. While I would love to be out and doing things during the day, I have been fighting a nasty cold this past week. I have spent an inordinate amount of time crocheting and binge-watching Netflix.

Burnout Does Not Begin to Describe What I Feel

There is the all-too-common refrain of “too much to do and not enough energy” floating around in my head. My work-in-progress list is a mile long, and my to-do list is longer. So, I procrastinate and think of things I would do if it were January.

Maybe I can call it planning and drop some good ideas into the mix and see if I can indeed get something accomplished. But, there is a distinct lack of purpose and drive. Baking sounds fun–but it would mess up the whole kitchen. Cleaning would get me ahead for the week–but it doesn’t sound exciting. Even Pinterest has lost its glitter. I can’t even decorate the house for Autumn because there would need to be cleaning done first…{heavy sigh}.

I Have No Less Than…

  • 4 full-size afghans started (1 needs blocking; 1 needs the ends woven in and then I need to figure out a way to make it square)
  • a pillow in the works
  • a wreath needing a pattern written
  • 5 pairs of fingerless mitts need patterns written (very quickly!)
  • 1 giveaway planned
  • several videos to edit prior to posting
  • multiple aprons, which I must decide whether to sew or not
  • plans for Winter and Spring to make
  • some yarny stuff to clean up
  • prototypes to put away
  • more color pooling crochet to do
  • several blog posts to write

I Guess I am Bored

Being bored correctly is an art form. It can be a cauldron that ferments creativity or simply a cement mixer that jostles out ideas every once in awhile. Some ideas are good, and some are bad. I will probably resort to cleaning up the studio which is a very, very good thing for me to do while bored. It results in new creative ideas which distract me, so I don’t have to finish cleaning!  It often also results in a clean studio. Or maybe I’ll just take a day off and mess around in my kitchen; take a vacation, of sorts.


I wrote that a couple of weeks ago at the beginning of Autumn, but once again it is a dreary rainy day.

The To-do List is Slightly Smaller…

Autumn and Creativity

  • 4 full-size afghans started. I still have four left, but I have finished four others, and one is so close to the end that it hurts to put it down every night.
  • 1 needs blocking.  I’m putting the border on this one but ran out of black yarn. I finished it!
  • 2 need the ends woven in and then I need to figure out a way to make 1 squarer. It only needs 9 more blocks! Yay!

2016-09-25-19-09-19

  • a pillow in the works
  • a wreath needing a pattern written Probably not happening this year!
  • 5 pairs of fingerless mitts need patterns written (very quickly) This is done but not released. This needs to happen this week.
  • 1 giveaway planned
  • several videos to edit prior to posting The editing is done. I just need to post them. Stay tuned to my YouTube channel as new videos are coming soon!
  • multiple aprons, which I must decide whether to sew or not I am not cutting out more aprons–I need to sew the ones I have cut out already!
  • plans for Winter and Spring to make This has happened by cleaning up the drafts in the blog. I had about 100 drafts until I deleted a bunch. I did end up with some good posts, though–they just need some cleaning up.
  • some yarny stuff to clean up
  • prototypes to put away
  • more color pooling crochet to do This is harder than it looks. I have too many irons in the fire to get them done quickly, but I am working on it.
  • several blog posts to write (See “plans for Winter and Spring to make” above.)

Life is Frustrating Today as I Write This

It’s probably just the Autumn rain; I can’t help but think of how little is getting done and how broken up my time is. I know, in a few short years, I will have huge unbroken blocks of time–and that thought, in itself, almost overwhelms me.Autumn project

Yesterday I was out and about. Do you know what I did? I bought more yarn….for another crocheted afghan! I must be crazy. My husband is pretty sure it is an illness of some kind. He just smiles now.

Remember to always shop your stash! Do as I say, not as I did today!

Talk to you later,

Karen