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2019 Review

It only seems five minutes since I wrote the 2018 review blog, but here we are again. There is a chill in the air, still flooded countryside from the deluge in October and the world is just as insane, if not more so than it was last year. It has been a big year of personal change, dominated by the purchase of our cottage which we have been renting since 2014. I have had an incredible year selling my Stuff on Etsy, though Etsy itself has gone from being everyone's favourite, trusted big brother, to a dodgy, draconian uncle who holds the family fortune, who could cut you out, squash you like a bug at the drop of a hat! I stay out of the Etsy politics. I use it for what it is, always go my own way and try to do good by them and I use it to it's full potential.

When I started seriously doing my online shop two

years ago, it was two years into my five year plan. By 2020 my goals are to:

Perfect my Etsy shop in all spheres,

Offer a bespoke, fully worldwide service,

Hopefully have some 5* reviews and feedback

Have my own website that I controlled

Have a recognisable identity

Never have my creativity dry up!

Perfect my shop

This year was the year I sat for HOURS researching how Etsy works with a plan to ensure my shop met all of their requirements, from the length of descriptions and titles, keywords/tags used, to the number of photographs per listing. It took 3 months to edit my shop, re-taking photographs of everything with the new camera and studio lights and learning about SEO's. Search Engine Optimization is basically word connecting by making your online work visible in searches to the market you are targeting. I have just checked my stats on Etsy and my direct traffic is up 129%, which is due to my Stuff cropping up more in the right searches. In August this year I had a worldwide ranking of 221,000 and today it is 190,833 out of 1.5 million shops. I'm not overly confident that this figure is solely due to the number of sales I have had as there have been a lot of shops closing down. The free USA post debacle and VERY strict Etsy 'one strike and you're out' policy may have something to do with my 30,000 place rise up the ranks!!!

Offer a bespoke, worldwide service

There were times this year when I was very busy, but never over-stretched. There have been a lot of commissions for pom poms, birdies and drafties some

of which were a creative challenge but they all came good in the end. Heading towards the end of the year I know there are a lot of people with some really beautiful, well crafted Stuff that they love. There was the little birdie that went to Singapore.- he was designed from a photograph I was sent and became a bag charm. There were the small pom poms that went to a birthday party in California - after they were then made into a bedroom garland. This year I have shipped to Australia, Greece, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Canada, Ireland and America.

Hopefully have some 5* review

My tag line is 'Punky stuff made with love!' which was the best way I wanted to describe the quality of my Stuff. I do genuinely make with such care, I love everything and if something doesn't meet my rigorous scrutiny, it gets binned or broken for spares. All of my makes are based on clever colour usage, having spent all last year doing colour studies in the garden. I spend hours on Pinterest to check there isn't anything similar to my Stuff, I spend hours in wool shops looking for new and exciting wools and love trialling new colour combinations. This year it became apparent that the love goes both ways, reading through my reviews. I get goosebumps every time I get another 5 * review and the things people say is so encouraging and gratefully received. All 60 of my reviews are 5* and cover all my different makes. As I write this, my Etsy shop couldn't look healthier.

Have my own website that I control

(please be warmed there is a bad swear in this paragraph so maybe jump ahead if easily offended)

In the middle of the year I had perfected my SEO's (Search Engine Optimization) and so I started updating my website. The keywords and tags I had used in my shop listings were also used in photograph descriptions and titles on my website. I re-wrote everything so it all became more visible to my target market including adding links on photographs to the Etsy listings. It took MONTHS but my website now runs harmoniously with my Etsy. I wanted my website to be really personal, where I could show how things are made, discuss inspirations and give people a real insight into what Cat's Punky Stuff is all about. I came off Facebook this year too, deciding instead to dedicate my time to my own website. I have found that Pinterest brings me a lot of views and so I share everything to that and keep Cat's Punky Stuff Facebook and Twitter account just ticking over. Personally I would ditch all of social media, it is the death of society, but unfortunately it is a necessity in the Age of Silcun* Valley!

Never have my creativity dry up

There is NO chance of that happening! In the new year I am going to have new listings for tassel curtains, flower curtains and lavender wands. I have an idea to use crop-circles as an alphabet and I'll draw a phrase in code. Really looking forward to doing this as I haven't drawn a big A1 for several years. I still have 40 KGs of soy candle wax and enough jars to start a jam factory. I have ideas for garden herb scented, huge candles in jars with dried lavender and lace type jute twine accents for a proper Rustic Cottage decoration. I have also been saving the coloured plastic wrap from Quality Street as they would be fab over-laid each other around a candle jar for a more Bohemian Decor (notice the keywords?)

So as the year winds down I look back on it with fondness. We had a set back in October when we had to take Theo Rabbit to the vets for his trip to the Rainbow Bridge and his passing left us all heart-broken. His wife Coco really missed him and I had real concerns for her. Fate would have it that the next day a contractor told us they had a rabbit they wanted to rehome, and that's when the outrageous Mr Bing moved in. Theo had very big feet (and ears!) to fill, but Mr Bing is a whole lot of rabbit, both in personality and stature. We now have two black house-rabbits, one lop one not, who we will bond on the 12th December. They are already friends and we have no doubts about their compatibility. Mid December is also the time of year when I donate to the rabbit rescue. I donate a percentage of the profits and buy the rescue their shopping list. Last year it was bags of pellet food and bedding, with a few water bottles.

Next year is going to be really busy, with the renovation of the house, landscaping the garden and making new Stuff. I'm full of optimism, creativity and can't wait to see what the next year brings.

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