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  1. How my business started on Etsy

    I have a lot to thank Etsy for as it’s where my Lylia Rose business first began.  Without Etsy who knows, perhaps I would never be working for myself today.  My business may never have begun and grown into a full time career.  Of course I never blogged on Etsy which is what my main business is today, but originally I started selling handmade cards there.  This was back in 2012 after I’d had my first baby.  I was bored on maternity being stuck at home by myself and needed a hobby.  I never had a hobby back then and so decided to try and make some handmade cards.  It kept me occupied, but I had nowhere to store all these cards or be able to use them all as there were so many!

    I’d heard good things about Etsy from a work colleague that was into homemade and unique items.  I checked out the platform based on her recommendation and it seemed the perfect place to sell my cards.  At first I just told a few family members about my shop and some even ordered from me!  There was nothing quite like the buzz of hearing my phone ding with a sale, even if it was only family and friends at first!

    It didn’t take long to receive orders from random shoppers on Etsy and this was even more thrilling.  I was hooked!  I absolutely loved selling my items on Etsy even if at first it was only to cover the cost of the materials – a hobby business if you will.  After making cards galore I wanted to try my hand at something else, so started making jewellery.  I stocked up on beads, chains and charms and made an assortment of bracelets, earrings, rings and necklaces.

    Whilst baby was napping or happily playing I would crack on with my Etsy shop venture by making items to sell, taking photographs and listing them on Etsy.  It gave me something to do that was for me and so I didn’t just feel like a mum.  I had a hobby to focus on.

    Little did I know I’d go on to turn it into a profitable business, set up my own website, start blogging and eventually make a full time income from it!

    Related
    The story of how Lylia Rose began
    How I Became a Lifestyle Blogger

    Reasons why people love to support micro businesses on Etsy

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    A buying and selling community

    I have to say I was surprised when I got sales on Etsy.  It’s such a huge platform that I assumed I’d just blend into the masses and not attract any buyers at all, or that they’d even find me.  It was amazing to be able to generate sales on the platform as well as get my name out there.  Though I don’t have any listings in my store today, I am keeping the shop in case I ever decide to return.  That’s one beauty of Etsy as you only pay a listing fee and selling fee.  There are no other costs involved such as a monthly contract.

    I loved the community feel of Etsy.  I have also been a buyer on Etsy for over six years and most of the businesses I buy from are so friendly and personal.  The only marketplace platform I had previously purchased from was eBay where most of the sellers never contact a buyer or send a cut’n’paste message.  On Etsy it is different.  Most of the times I’ve ordered I have been sent a personalised message from the seller to update me on the order and thank me.  They are not big corporations and their small individual or micro businesses are their livelihood.  They care about their products and their customers.  Plus the items are handmade so they are very passionate about them.

    The reasons why people love to support micro businesses on Etsy

    A company called Seareach have recently published some interesting research into why people shop at Etsy by surveying over 1000 online shoppers.  There are some really interesting results which begin with only 30% having purchased anything from Etsy.  I find that quite amazing as I did think it would be higher.  Only 16% had not heard of Etsy at all, so perhaps the rest just hadn’t got round to buying anything yet!

    Here are their findings:

    Etsy-infographic

    As a buyer my main reason to shop there is for personalised items.  I especially love ordering a personalised baby card whenever there’s a new-born in our friends or family.  I know most people keep their baby’s birth cards so I like to try and get an extra special one if I can.  My cousin even kept the one I sent for her son and framed it on his nursery wall.  She was so impressed it was a papercut with his name and birth date!  With this in mind it doesn’t surprise me that the reason for 58% of people to shop there is for a unique and personalised item.  It really is the best place to find the perfect gift that’s not mass made and really is individual.

    Other reasons include:

    • Their selection of independent sellers – 40%
    • Selection of items for sale – 33%
    • Prefer to shop from independent sellers rather than chain stores – 10%
    • Niche items available – 2%

    It’s great to see that people love to shop with independent sellers and support micro businesses or even ‘kitchen table businesses’.  At first my business started on the dining room table or perched on my bed whilst kneeling on the floor.  Luckily I now have a proper office desk and chair!  I’d definitely much rather support an indie business over a commercial giant!  It seems that a lot of other online shoppers feel the same.

    As more and more people continue to set up their own businesses in this way I think the popularity of Etsy will skyrocket.  It was only once I started my own business that I then understood what it truly meant to support a similar business and thus started changing some of my shopping habits.  With internet shopping booming and people now able to buy goods online that they’d only previously get at a handmade fair, it makes it so much more convenient for shoppers to find these ‘made with love’ items.

     

    So if you’ve never visited Etsy then pop there now for a good look around whilst supporting the makers.  I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

    Related reads

    Halloween Costume and Decor Inspiration from Etsy
    Home Decor: Six of the best handmade items from Etsy

     

    Reasons why people love to support micro businesses on Etsy

    Collaboration

  2. Are your blog posts failing to get any readers? At the heart of any successful blog is engaging content written with passion, but this alone might not get you the visitors you want. Here are some other ways to improve traffic to your blog.

    7 Tricks To Boost Your Blogs Readership

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    Post content more regularly

    Busy blogs attract more visitors – not only do they rank higher on search engines, but they also encourage return readers who know that you’re constantly going to put new content up. You may not get more readers to each individual post, but it could attract more overall readers to your blog. Some blog owners even schedule specific times to post content so that there’s a sense of routine. It’s possible to even time posts to go out at key times when you’re likely to have more visitors – you can use analytics to find out when these peak times are.

    Consider hiring a professional web designer 

    Investing in web design could help to give your blog a more unique feel. Many bloggers use platforms such as Wordpress and Blogger to create blogs – whilst these are easy-to-use powerful tools, they can give your blog a template-y look. A website that’s coded from scratch could help you to stand out in the crowded blogosphere and it could allow you to organise content in a cool and fresh way that makes your blog more fun. Web design can cost a fair bit of money so make sure you’re serious about your blog so that it’s not a waste of money.

    Make use of social media

    Many people follow blogs through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Social media can also be a great means of discovering new readers – content can get shared which can allow new people to discover it, plus you can promote posts so that they show up on targeted users feeds. It’s worth adding links to your social media pages on your blog so that readers that like your content can easily follow you – you can even allow readers to post comments via Facebook using a special plug-in.

    Start thinking about SEO

    SEO stands for search engine optimisation and is all about improving your rankings on major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. The best way of naturally improving your rankings is to incorporate keywords – there are keyword research tools and analytics plug-ins that can help you to find the terms and phrases that are most likely to push up your rankings. You can also increase your search engine rankings through hyperlinks and shared multimedia. Hyperlinks could involve links to other content on your blog as well as links to other sites and blogs (search engines appreciate bloggers that share other people’s content). As for multimedia, consider using other people’s images with permission (and crediting them) or embedding Youtube videos – not only will this improve your rankings but it will make your posts look more exciting. 

    Start posting promotional content 

    You can also grow your readership by posting promotional content such as reviews and informational posts for companies and artists. These companies and artist are likely to share you content amongst their own followers once it is published, which can help to attract new readers. Some bloggers even make an income out of publishing this content by charging companies and artists for these articles. The key is stay within your niche and make this promotional content fun – if it comes off too salesy, you could deter readers.

    Take on guest writers

    It’s possible to also grow your blog by taking on guest writers. You can encourage these writers to share the content, which will in turn attract more readers to your blog. Of course, you don’t want anyone and anybody writing for your blog – they need to be proficient at writing and they need to post content that’s relevant to your blog.

    Connect with other bloggers

    You can also make friends with other bloggers and encourage one another to promote one another’s content. This can be a great way of growing each other’s respective audiences. Find blogs that are similar to you that you personally enjoy and consider connecting with the owner and seeing what you can do to help one another out.

     

    What to read next

    Make money from your blog with Awin affiliate marketing
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    7 Tricks To Boost Your Blog’s Readership

  3. I had my top train track brace removed after 25 months of continuous wear in May and I just had my bottom brace removed last week.  What would usually be a momentous and exciting occasion for most brace wearers was not so for me.  I have a lateral incisor missing at the top and once the brace was removed I had to have the other removed, so now I have two teeth missing right next to my top front teeth!  Obviously with the brace on I had a false tooth attached to the wire so no one knew I had any teeth missing. Now the brace has gone the gaps are there for all to see!  This has probably made my experience of the retainer worse than for others as when I remove it to eat I have missing teeth.

    As I’ve only just had the second tooth out I now have to wait 6-9 months to get my permanent false teeth in the form of bridges (either Maryland or traditional).  Until then I will have my clear retainer with one false tooth and filling material to cover the gaps.  I did pick up a Hawley retainer with two false teeth this week, but it may even be worse than this Essix retainer so I’ve only been sleeping in it so far.  Plus I think it’s moved my front teeth in only two nights of wear, so I may just stick with the Essix retainer even though I detest it!

    I’m getting a denture next week which I am praying looks normal and I can eat without embarrassment in the day and have my social life back.  I have friends that are keen to go out for a meal and I have to keep putting it off as I don’t want to have to talk and eat in front of other people with two teeth missing at the front!

    The brace journey certainly isn’t over once the brace is removed, but it is one step closer.  I’ve had to wear retainers full time for three months and then I have a review.  Then hopefully retainers will be part time at night only.  I now have all three styles of retainer: metal Hawley, clear Essix and permanent bonded retainer.

    I’ve had the clear Essix retainer on the top teeth for two months already (full time) so I feel qualified to give my experience of this brace.  Whilst it’s great it is clear and from a slight distance you can’t even tell a brace is being worn, it also has lots of negatives too.  I can’t wait to only have to wear it part time at night!

    NO MORE BRACES AFTER 28 MONTHS (BUT ITS NOT OVER YET) - orthodontics at 30

    At least you can't see my two gaps when I have this on.  The two teeth next to the front top teeth are missing.  This Essix retainer has a false tooth to cover one gap and some filling material from the dentist to cover the other.

    Here are 12 reasons I hate the Essix retainer:

    Bad breath

    Yep it gives me stinking bad breath.  Really gross.  Probably because all the spit just collects in it all day long and doesn’t flow through the mouth or get swallowed.  I’m brushing my teeth after every meal so more than ever, sometimes four times a day and using mouthwash, but it still stinks.

    Can’t eat with it in

    I can’t eat with it in.  This probably won’t be a problem for those who have no missing teeth, but for me it’s meant I have to reveal my missing teeth whenever I eat or drink anything other than water.  This has meant avoiding any social situations where I need to eat, drink and talk to people.

    Love life killer

    It’s like wearing a mouth guard so it’s hard to kiss, plus I’m conscious of the bad breath, missing teeth and spit that is visible within it.  Any love life I did manage to have whilst wearing braces (and feeling gross with those) is now totally out of bounds.

    Disgusting in the morning

    The morning is the worst!  A whole night of sleeping with spit and bacteria accumulating!  So most people get morning breath, but aplify that by a billion and you can imagine how it is.  It tastes and feels gross first thing, but just wait until you remove it to brush your teeth.  It’s like all the bad air, taste and smell is released from its protective case (being the retainer) and it’s oh so disgusting…  Luckily this is only for a moment as teeth are brushed right away to rid this awfulness!

    Spit when I talk

    I spit when I talk.  It’s so embarrassing.  If I’m talking a lot to a friend then it’s next level.  If I drink some water whilst talking then I’m just showering them. 

    Can’t snack

    Well I can, but then I’d have to take my retainer out just to have a nibble and then clean it and brush my teeth before putting it back in… too much hassle.  Good if you’re trying to eat less though!

    Have to brush teeth several times per day

    After taking it out to eat then you have to brush your teeth and clean the retainer.  Believe me, you’ll want to as well!  A couple of times I’ve been on the go and just popped it back in and heaved in the process!  It’s so gross.  It smells bad, tastes bad and looks bad.  It’s really not nice putting it back in without being able to clean it.  This means taking toothpaste and a toothbrush everywhere and trying to avoid any situation where I can’t brush my teeth after eating or drinking.

    Can‘t lick spoons or knives

    I never before noticed how often I do this!  When making the kids lunchboxes or breakfast I often just eat what’s left on the knife or fork.  Even when cooking or baking and trying the food.  With a retainer in there’s no eating or drinking anything other than water.

    Breaks easily

    It’s just plastic so it can break.  I’ve been really careful to look after mine, but it’s already split at the front after only two months.  I think it’s OK for now but it will probably get worse.  I’ve since read online they can only last six months which isn’t long when they cost £100 to replace.

    Can’t bite natural teeth together

    I couldn’t with the brace either as they put biting blocks on my teeth to prevent me biting together, so it’s frustrating I still can’t bite together now!  No biting nails (maybe a good thing for some), Selotape, thread and so on.

    Always covered in spit

    I really hate spit.  Ask Ben, my husband.  I hate even using a spoon as I hate when the saliva is dragged all over it… it’s something I’ve always hated.  I’d always use a fork if eating cake and never a spoon.  I hate people who spit in public too.  Spit and saliva are just eew to me.  This thing is a spit machine!  It fills with spit which are always on the teeth.  The spit is visible close up as it’s see-through.  When I take it out there is loads of stringy saliva hanging off.  It makes me feel disgusting.

    Lisp when I talk

    When I first put it on I could barely talk at all and was lisping terribly.  I’m much better now, but there are some words I can’t say and Ben keeps mis-hearing me (though I just swear he’s losing his hearing sometimes…)  Either way, it’s frustrating sometimes.

    So there we go.  All the reasons I do not like the clear plastic Essix retainer.  At least with the brace I had a false tooth and could eat on the go without all the grossness of having to remove it and worry about being able to brush my teeth right away.  Plus there was no spit.

     

    Read my entire braces at 30 journey here: https://www.lyliarose.com/blog/categories_34332/braces-at-30.html 

    12 reasons I hate the clear plastic Essix retainer

  4. Deciding to start your own business is an exciting and nerve wracking moment.  Perhaps you’ve a hobby that you can turn into a money making venture, you want to start monetising your blog or there’s a home business idea you’ve been dreaming of for years and you’re ready to make it a reality.  I’ve been self-employed and running my own small business called Lylia Rose from home since 2012. In this blog post I’ll share seven things to do at the beginning of your starting a business journey.

    There are lots of things to think about when setting up your own business for the first time.  I’m no stranger to this process as my husband has started his own business recently and I also set up my own second website.  The beginning process is one I am familiar with.  We would also like to set up another travel related website, but we are stuck on deciding a name!

    In no particular order here are the first seven things to think about, create or design when setting up your own business:

    7 things to do when starting your own business

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    The name

    The first thing you need to do is decide on a business name.  This can either be the easiest process or the hardest!  Sometimes you know instantly what you want to call your business and if it’s not a taken name then away you go.  However, if every name you think of already exists as a business then it can become more of a challenge.  Mind map and brainstorm until you come up with a perfect name.  Don’t settle for anything you are not 100% sure of.   Also think about the longevity of the business name.  There are many bloggers who call their blogs something like Baby Isla’s Mummy only to go on to have lots more children and after a year Isla isn’t a baby anymore.  Try to think of a name that can represent your business as it evolves into the future.  Once you have the name sorted then you can design the perfect logo.  You’ll also want to check your proposed business name is available as a domain and on the social media accounts you plan to use.

    Business cards

    No doubt you’ll want to tell lots of people all about your new business venture and if interested they’ll want to know your new business name and website details.  Most people will forget what they’re told, so it’s handy to have some business cards in your wallet ready to give to those inquisitive people.  Then there’s no danger of them forgetting and you could instantly have a new fan, supporter or even customer.  Professional business cards are easy to make using an online printing company like HelloPrint UK where you can upload your own designs and logos.  Give some extra cards to your friends and family to pass on and news of your new venture will soon spread.

    Website

    In the modern age it’s so important to have an online presence.  Your customers will be searching online to find a company just like yours and if you’re not there, you can’t be found.  It’s a great place to showcase a portfolio, take bookings or even to sell products depending on your business model.  Setting up a website is easy than ever nowadays with plenty of free templates available even for those of us who have no idea about coding whatsoever.  For a monthly or annual fee you’ll be able to get a slightly better website with more functionality and customer service to guide you through the process.  You can even hire a web developer to design your website from scratch if preferred.

    Related read: How to CREATE your own website (who I use)

    Social media accounts

    As well as being found by your website, customers will want to see you have a social presence too on some or all of the social media websites available today.  If all of them is too overwhelming (and time consuming) then just pick around three that you can focus your time and energy on.  I use Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.  All three have very different purposes, but they mean my customers and followers can see what I’m up to and contact me via these channels if preferred.  It can give your business a more personal feel and some insight into the person who runs the business and a peek behind the scenes.

    Domain email

    When you have your website set up you’ll want to set up a business email that’s linked to your domain.  This means your email address will be something like hello@yourbusinessname.com.  If you only have one domain you can set up a free account with Zoho who will talk you through setting up a custom domain email address.  I use them for both my Create and Wordpress websites and the process was pretty straightforward.  If you get stuck they have an online chat team who can assist.  Of course you could go for something like yourbusinessname@yahoo.com but I don’t think it looks as professional as your own domain email.  Seeing as you can set this up at no extra cost, it’s definitely worth doing.

    Branding

    Once you’ve got a name and logo then you’ll want to think about your branding.  This may start with the logo and the choice of colours you use.  Think of the colours you want to use for your brand and use them throughout your website, marketing materials, graphics, social media and email signatures.  Consistent branding will enable your business to be recognised and appear more professional.  This is the same with the fonts you decide to use.  Have a main text font and then choose an accent font.  Your brand voice is your businesses personality and this should also be consistent allowing consumers to trust you, recognise you and rely on you.

    Tax

    The scariest sounding thing of all, but believe me it’s not that bad.  You will need to register with HMRC as self-employed if you are starting a money making business.  No matter if you are only going to make 1p or even a loss in your first year, you still need to register.  If you already have an employed job, you still need to register.  You will need to declare all your business incomings and expenditure for tax purposes, even if you don’t meet the personal threshold and have nothing to pay.  It still needs to be declared.  There are so many helpful guides on the HMRC website that explain everything and this is a great starting point: https://www.gov.uk/working-for-yourself

    Starting your own business is so exciting.  Good luck!

     

    What to read next

    5 tried and tested ways to make money as a UK stay at home mum
    Make money from your blog with Awin affiliate marketing
    10 careers you can do from home
    The 5 ways I made £30000 money from home in 2017/2018

     

     7 things to do when starting your own business

  5. Welcome to my latest giveaway!  Today I have a blog giveaway to win a £40 promo code to spend on items of your choice at StickerYou.  Read on to find out all about this wonderful prize and how you can enter.

    Create custom stickers and labels for home, kids and business!

    Blog Giveaway – Win a £50 promo code for StickerYou.com

    ‘StickerYou Inc. provides the best platform in the world to create custom products that make you stick!’

    Who are StickerYou?

    StickerYou.com is a website that enables you to design your own custom stickers for both home and business.  You can order from as little as one bespoke sticker to hundreds or even thousands.  The options are endless with single die cut shaped stickers, to whole sheets of stickers.  You can choose any shape, size and quantity.

    For your business 

    These are the perfect way to promote your business or blog.  They even have business card stickers!  Being an online seller I regularly order my logo on small circle stickers to stick on the seal of mailing bags with customer orders.  They have ideas for all sorts of businesses from adding your logo to coffee cups, jars, walls, doors, cars and all sorts with vinyl decals, badges, patches and other materials available too.  It’s not just stickers!

    At home 

    They also have so many options for stickers to use at home and for kids including name labels to stick on lunchboxes, water bottles and other belongings.  They also have stick-on clothing tab labels which are strong enough to go through the wash and don’t require any ironing!  We always have a stash of these stickers at home with the kids names on so we can just grab and stick if the kids get new uniform or a take something from home into school one day.

    The prize

    The winner will receive a £40 promo code and can choose anything from the StickerYou website. 

    Enter here:

    The full terms and conditions are below and in the Rafflecopter widget.  Check out my Giveaways section for more amazing prizes.

    Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Please pin me:

    Blog Giveaway – Win a £40 promo code for StickerYou.com

    Term and Conditions:

    • There will be one winner
    • The prize is £40 to spend at www.stickeryou.com
    • The prize must be claimed within 28 days of the first winner's notification email being sent.
    • There is no cash alternative
    • There is no limit on the number of entries per person, follow the instructions to enable multiple entries
    • Winners will be notified within 28 days
    • The winner must claim their prize within 28 days or it will be forfeited
    • All entries must be received by the date and time specified
    • The winner will be picked at random by Rafflecopter & notified by email
    • Giveaways are open to the UK only

     

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