Here's a my pick of some advent calendars that I wouldn't mind having over all month long!
Advent calendars are a fun way to count the days down to Christmas. Even though December is creeping upon us (I still can't get over the fact that we have days.. DAYS! left in November), there's still time for you to whip up an insanely awesome advent calendar for all the little ones (or grown-up versions).
Here's a my pick of some advent calendars that I wouldn't mind having over all month long!
Stress, stress, Stay away!
Come again another day!
Are you starting to feel a bit stressed, like little CurlieQ up there.. with Thanksgivukkah, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve and then 2014 coming up in the next 30-odd days?
Phew! If I wasn't stressed before, listing out all these "popular" celebrations have really made the message sink home! So in times like this, the best thing you can do is breathe!
Here are a few tips to get you through the magic mayhem we call the silly season!
Baby Steps, Honey!
Yep, take baby steps. Break down your tasks into little, bite-sized chunks. Like that dinner party of yours.. or that birthday gig you were planning. You're worrying about the menu, the decorations, the guests, the dress code, cleaning the house, making sure there's toilet paper in the guest bathroom.. and so on. Don't try to do it all at once, even if you ARE a superhero in disguise.
When things start to overwhelm you, try one of the oldest tricks in the book. Well, the doctor book anyway. Stop and talk your pulse. Some people literally have to do that to calm themselves down. For others, simply focusing on breathing in and out is enough to draw your focus away from the crazy whirlwinds in your head. Take the time to sit down, have a cuppa and let yourself have some peace. Even if it's only for 30 seconds, it's often enough to allow you to regroup and re-focus on tasks at hand.
Making a list, and checking it thrice
Write, or draw if you're so inclined, everything that you need to do. It doesn't have to be a boring, daunting list if that's not your thing. I find it helpful to have an overview of the upcoming weeks in a monthly calendar grid filled out with just event names. I then have a list if more detail is required for each specific event on my monthly calendar to help me work out my priorities. Everything is written down and I worry less about forgetting to do something this way. You can also see your tasks at a glance this way, and increase efficiency by grouping similar tasks together from different events. For example, just the other day, I managed to drop off parcels at the post office, then a stash of cards to our new stockist (go say hi to Sew Make Create!!), get groceries, gas, replenish my ailing balcony garden and get to the hardware store in one car trip doing a little loop around town. Not bad for 4 hours, if I say so myself!
As tempting as it is to stay and finish whatever is keeping you busy (especially for all you night owls, like me!), your mind and body will thank you for going to sleep before midnight when you're tackling your tasks the next day. No use stressing and doing a job in a rush, or poorly due to lack of concentration or sleep. That just creates more stress and you end up in a downward spiral! Might as well get some good, quality sleep and tackle the new day feeling refreshed.
Laugh, smile and enjoy it! After all, this madness comes only once a year and sometimes, this is the only chance to catch up with certain friends and family. Try not to get bogged down with all the details and stress so much that little kids mistake you for the Grinch because your brows are perpetually furrowed!
What kind of things have you tried and tested to help you cope with the silly season? I'd love to hear and learn a thing or two!
Each week, Missy Messy picks an Etsy treasury (collections of items individual users pick... it's like going window-shopping) to showcase, and whips up a rhyme inspired by the treasury theme. This week's treasury is "Sunshine" by Kelly from Colourscape. Enjoy!
Hello there, sunshine,
A long time no see!
It's been rainy and gloomy
So I greet you with glee!
It's soon to be summer
In our part of the world
But you keep dancing
Everywhere else as you whirled.
Lucky for us though,
We have our own sun
Shining brightly through this group
Of pretty goodies and fun!
December is almost upon us (where has the year gone?!) and we're gearing up for our first Holy Moly Holiday Sale. It's going to be the biggest sale all year, and it's going to happen annually so this is probably a good time to grab a bargain on any Gloriousmess! goodie you've been eyeing unless you want to wait another year...
Newsletter subscribers get a wee bit more of a discount, so if you haven't subscribed yet.. now's your chance! Sign up HERE or click on the link on the sidebar to the right.
Aside from our huge sale coming up, I'm really quite excited about something I've got up my sleeve for everyone! Just a wee bit of a clue.. it involves some clicking and some freebies. For a whole week. Yep! Keep your eyes peeled for more details sometime in the middle of December!
I used to scoff at the name.. until I got curious, clicked on my first "Follow with Bloglovin'" button and then I was hooked. Catching up on ALL the blogs I follow could not be easier. The blog doesn't even need to have a Bloglovin' account to be followed - you just search for it using its URL and you add it to your reading list. I get a daily digest of all the blogs that have new posts that day, straight in my inbox. One stop shop.. my favorite kind!
So here's a little reminder that you can follow our blog with your Bloglovin' account by searching for our URL (http://sharethemess.com/blog) or simply click here!
Every so often, I will run into situations that will frustrate me to no end when dealing with a business. Until I started Gloriousmess!, I had no idea about all the endless. little. details that a business of any kind had to deal with. It's not hard to understand how some things might be missed during the initial set-up or even during the day to day running of a business.
Here are 5 common "mistakes" that I have come across that have driven me cruhh-aye-zeeee as a (potential) customer.
Playing hide-and-seek with your customers
Making your customer rummage around your website to look for contact details is probably not a good thing, especially if you have a customer that is lacking patience. Actually, from a business point of view, the amount of patience a customer has should be irrelevant. Your website is an extension of your company/business and the image it projects should reflect that of your company. Apparently, out of more than half a million websites sampled by vSplash in 2011, 24% of them have an email address on the website and 13% have a phone number. Yes, 120,000 or so websites with email addresses displayed may sound impressive, but what about the other 380,000 or so websites that aren't even playing hide-and-seek with their email and just don't have one displayed at all?
As a customer, I would be having second thoughts and dubious impressions of a company website with no way of contacting the company. I'm looking for any form of contact - an email address, a phone number, a contact form, social media links.. anything that will let me get in touch with you, the company. Making me click through all your webpages, or spending eternity trying to scroll to the bottom of your pages because you have a fancy schmancy script that keeps elongating the page with more products, is going to make me lose patience very very fast. Enough to simply close the window and move onto a new store that causes less angst and answers all my questions (whether I am aware of them or not) without me clicking for help. You think I'm being melodramatic? You try scrolling to the bottom of this website and see how far down you get before you give up!
Recommended Quick Fix:
This is a no-brainer - make it blatantly easy for your customers to contact you. You can place social media and email links or icons at either the top or bottom (or both!) of your website as many businesses already do. You could also create a separate page with all your contact details to consolidate all the information. It is generally advised to include phone numbers too, but I personally think that it's much safer for everyone to initially correspond by email. A written transcript of the communication is a lot more reliable than a phone conversation - less chance of miscommunication due to bad lines, or pure forgetfulness and then having to play "I thought I said ..." afterwards.
Making your customer talk to your automated phone system
We have technology advanced enough to have not-too-bad voice-recognition programs, but they're still far from perfect! How many times have you stood there sounding like an idiot, yelling into your phone "Aww-stray-lee-ahh!!" and having the robotic voice on the other end ask you "Please say yes if you are calling from Lithuania."? This is much worse when you're in public. Trust me. It was not pretty. If you haven't experienced this, count yourself lucky! You may want to watch this video by Basic Bananas to understand why it's so frustrating.
Whilst I like the idea that things are automated and hopefully more efficient, this is one example where technology might trip you up and drive away your customers who can't reach you in good time.
Recommended Quick Fix:
Pick up the phone and talk to your customers! If you absolutely cannot do that (especially for small business owners who often have to play all the different roles a business requires and don't have enough hours in the day to also play secretary), record a friendly, succinct voicemail message or use a virtual secretary service. Dave Donelson, from The Dynamic Manager, has some practical advice for business owners who choose to use automated telephone answering systems. Jeff Mowatt delves into some of the psychology behind (irritated) customer responses on the phone and explains how to avoid these situations.
Poor customer service and/or communication
So, you finally get through and is communicating with a human being (you hope!) via email or telephone. You think you're getting somewhere with your enquiry. And then, there's silence. You don't ever, ever hear back from the person you were corresponding with again. Or you get an email link to a free coupon code sent as an apology.. that leads to an error page. Or, you get a screenshot of a parcel tracking enquiry with absolutely no text, explanation or even a signature (which has recently happened to me and I tell you, I was not impressed. Especially when I had access to that same webpage using my tracking code and could obviously see the same thing the customer service rep could.)
Why on earth would a company shoot themselves in the foot like that?
According to James Surowiecki's column in The New Yorker in 2010, sometimes poor customer service boils down to budget. He goes on to explain that a lot of companies think they're providing better customer service than they actually are because improvements, benchmarks and such intangible things have been implemented but the crux of the matter is that customers remain dissatisfied because their problems are still not being resolved. Furthermore, some companies would rather concentrate on potential customers and hence, pour resources into sales and marketing whilst neglecting their existing customer base. Oops.
Recommended Quick Fix:
Treat your customers the way you would like to be treated, and you'll be fine. That means not only listening to their questions, problems, complaints or compliments, but really hearing the message. And appropriately acting on it! If you make a mistake, honesty is the best policy.. as well as a thousand apologies and perhaps, a bit of grovelling depending on the scale of your mistake. The worst thing you can do is ignore the issue and hope it will go away. Even if you're lucky, and it does go away, chances are your customer will be long gone too (along with their friends sometimes).
Making your customer fill out a background check before allowing them to complete their purchase
This is one major, major turn-off for me as a customer. Not only does my irritation grow with the number of text fields, drop down boxes and numbers I have to input but so do the number of questions I have. Why do they want to know my hobbies and income? What are they going to do with the information? Oh no, are they going to spam me? And so on..
Recommended Quick Fix:
Make your forms as succinct as possible. Have only the bare minimum fields you will need to ensure delivery of your goods or services - things like customer names (full names, especially for international post), a current and working email address, mailing and billing addresses and any payment details you may need to process the transaction. Less crucial things like birthdays, newsletter sign-up preferences and such should be left optional. You might even want to consider a "Guest Check-out" mode if possible where the customer has a choice of a quick checkout. Christian Holst covers the checkout process in more depth in his article on Smashing Magazine.
Lack of an introduction or background to the business
Have you ever stumbled upon a website that had an interesting product, but was made by a company you've never seen or heard of before? Personally, I would feel a bit uncomfortable making that purchase until a few doubts were clarified. Especially if the website looked "dodgy" for whatever reason - broken links and pictures, pages that lead to my browser warning me of security problems, etc.
Simple questions that most of us would be asking (sometimes subconsciously) to establish a certain level of trust that is needed to buy something off the internet. These questions may include, amongst others:
Recommended Quick Fix:
Having a little blurb (or blurbs) somewhere on your company website will do wonders in creating a more trustworthy environment for your customer, I believe. Not only does it provide a focus for our website (so the customer doesn't aimlessly wander around, confused about what your website is all about) but will hopefully allow the customer to understand your company, its ethos, culture and story. Obviously, don't write a book about it and label it as your "About" page - chances are, not many people will stick around to read it. Something simple and succinct to convey the message is all that's needed! As a customer, at least I will feel more secure in knowing that the website belongs to a real company or person (based on the information provided, of course) and may even overlook or forget some of my other initial trepidations. Especially if I really, really like a product on the website.
Phew! I had intended this to be a quick post with 5 major peeves but it took on a life of its own, it seems.
Have you come across some bad business practices? Have you been guilty of commiting some of these oopsies? Add to the list and share your stories! After all, this is the best way to learn - from our collective mistakes.
Each week, Missy Messy picks an Etsy treasury (collections of items individual users pick... it's like going window-shopping) to showcase, and whips up a rhyme inspired by the treasury theme. This week's treasury is "Read" by Jennifer from WinterOwls. Enjoy!
Hello there, curious one!
Do you like to read?
Do you like adventures
or cautionary tales to heed?
Or would you prefer some humor,
For laughter is the best!
There's also romance and thrillers
To add a little zest!
Regardless of your preference,
I'm sure you'll love these finds.
A lot of them are quite unique
And might be one-of-a-kind!
It's been a bit gloomy over here this weekend in terms of the weather, but given the recent horrific bushfires, rain is really not a bad thing.
Just out of curiousity, do you prefer your days rainy or sunny?
You can add your vote by clicking on the check mark next to your choice.
For me, I'd rather be indoors when it's rainy, and outdoors when it's sunny. Winter here can be quite bad for me when I didn't get to see any sunshine for long spells. I guess I won't do very well in places with the super-long nights like the Scandin
So, yay! The domain's ported over.
I was a wee bit worried about the transfer, but instructions were quite straight-forward.
My old Wordpress.org blog has now been successfully ported over to a new Wordpress.com blog where it'll just.. be. I never would have guessed that I would be a bit sentimental about starting over. After all, my old blog hasn't even turned one. There were quite a number of posts for a young blog though, and I wasn't willing to just let them fade into a cyber-ether. You can find the old archived posts by clicking the link under "Archives" to the right, on the sidebar.
Now, all that's left is to stock up the store. Sounds more simple than it actually is. Here we go!
I've been searching long and hard to find a better home for Gloriousmess! online for the past few months. I think this might be it!
For those of you who might be in a similar situation, here is how I ended up here.
We first started our blog on Blogger. It was awesome in its own way, but I couldn't see it being anything more than a blog. I had bigger visions for it. I wanted to eventually incorporate the shop into the blog and have somewhere I can truly call Home Base.
By a lucky accident, I acquired my own hosted account and installed Wordpress on the server. I was much happier with the increased flexibility, and the chance of having a shop integrated into it. I diligently ported all my previous Blogger posts over, and happily created posts galore. A few months in, and I was feeling quite comfortable with my new home. I was ready to tackle the shop integration. This is the reason I moved away from Wordpress. I had too little control in Blogger, and I had too much freedom in Wordpress. I'm such a Goldilocks about this, aren't I? Sigh.
Hello and welcome to Oh, what a Gloriousmess! This is where all gorgeously awesome people and things gather - from art & design to lifestyle, mind & body tips and everything in between. Pull up your chair, make yourself comfy and come say hello - I'd love to get to know you!