It has been a fun spring break here – the kids and I have visited the museum, the library and the recreation center, where we enjoyed a little swimming fun! The weather has been mild, sunny, but a little windy, which is why most of our activities have been indoors. The break from our daily routine is much welcomed as the weeks leading up to spring break have been fairly hectic and I was in “overwhelm” mode. My writing business is taking up much of my time and I am back to working regular weekends as an OT at a skilled nursing facility. This week, though, I am giving myself permission to take a rest.
In the weeks leading up to spring break, I have visited various venues that I think would make great story time places, yet the shy person in me has chickened out each time. Business cards and flyers that sit in my wallet and car really do no good. And I feel guilty for not placing enough effort in my book business, even though I love the idea of it still.
Well, thank goodness for spring break and the coming of spring, so that I can re-group and plan. Spring is a great time for new beginnings…
We have just returned from a fun week with our family in Seattle. We had great weather and enjoyed the unique landscape of the Pacific Northwest. The highlight for my kids was spending time with their cousins, playing Wii and Zoobles, riding the ferry, and “hi-fiving” a fish at Pike Place Market! We bought that fish home and cooked it for dinner – it turned out to be so yummy!
We celebrated R’s birthday and I have finally finished unpacking and organizing a bit (as organized as I can be, I guess – organization seems to be elusive for me these days), so now I am back at my desk, thinking about my bookshop and my writing projects again. I got a fun package from my team leader with sales aids and I am excited to be back thinking about how to grow my business again…
We are in the thick of Valentine’s day parties here. We are writing cards, baking sweets and planning a preschool Valentine’s day party – how about you? Barefoot Books updated our websites this week to include some sweet stories as part of our Valentine’s day planning. One of the ones highlighted is The Boy Who Grew Flowers. We picked it up at the library a few weeks ago, since it is a favorite at Barefoot Books and consistently gets great reviews. The story was a little long for my preschoolers, but they listened faithfully to hear what happens with the main characters, Rink Bowagon and Angelina Quiz. The book is beautifully illustrated and quirky, yet charming in it’s story line – who can resist a sweet love story between a boy, shy and sensitive and the new girl at school, innocent of any preconceived ideas about what kids in school should be like. When we finished reading the story, my kids peppered me with questions about how the flowers grew on the boy and about where they lived and what “green thumb” meant. I could see their little wheels turning in their brain as the story helped their imagination grow…
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I came across an interesting idea today while browsing and reading forums and other Barefoot Ambassador blogs. An online party! One of the ambassadors hosted an online party where people could come and shop from certain hours in the comfort of their own home and there was a “mystery” host. This meant that the person with the largest book order would get the hostess gift (whatever that may be – 20% of their order or free books, etc.). An online party is an intriguing idea – I will have to post it on the forums and see if it has any merit. What do you think?
We have been having “cold days” here in Colorado. Today and tomorrow, school has been cancelled due to the bitter, bitter cold. M is a little under the weather, so having some time off has been great. We have been in our jammies all day, relaxing, going on treasure hunts (inspired by the Port Side Pirates Activity Book we recently got) and of course, reading. The kids’ favorite book these last few days has been The Great Race by Dawn Casey and illustrated by Anne Wilson. It is perfect for the upcoming Year of the Rabbit on February 3, Chinese New Year.
The story is a re-telling of how the Chinese zodiac came to be. It gives an explanation for the order in which they came, and even talks about the reason for the animosity between rats and cats! My kids love it because they know the zodiac animal that they were born under and giggle whenever their particular animal is talked about. Little R was born in the Year of the Pig, so she loved it when the pig in the race came in last and explained that he needed to stop for a snack! M of course, perked up everytime he saw or heard the monkey in the story, since he was born in the Year of the Monkey.
It has been such a blessing on these cold winter days to snuggle up together in our jammies and read a story together. The best part is the interest they are showing in Chinese culture and the imagination and curiosity this story fuels! I hope you get to read it too – Happy Chinese New Year!
My marketing materials have arrived! The pretty catalog, my flyers and some cute bookmarks. I can’t wait to personalize them with my labels…
After fussing around with Word for label templates, I finally remembered that I can use Publisher for making pretty labels with the Barefoot Book logo and designs. I love getting to use this program again! The last time I used Publisher was to write our Center newsletter at the university! Tonight I made up some gift labels to go into books that I plan to give away as a marketing tool.
The books I ordered also arrived. I chose standard shipping and everything arrived exactly one week from when I placed the order. I love that the packing slip was handmarked with check marks for all the things I ordered – some nice quality assurance!
Today, I am dragging my feet. The first day (of many to come, I am sure), where I am feeling a little overwhelmed with my new venture. Can I really do it? How much of an investment do I want to make? Am I brave enough to really do it?
I”m not sure where this sense of doubt comes from, except my last few days have been spent learning about online marketing and doing a few things that have caused me to question the decisions I have made so far. I decided to get my business listed at Yahoo! local listings and also Google local listing, but ran into my first snag when I thought about posting my personal address online. So much for being an online anonymous business. And then that led to making me doubt my domain name: A Barefoot Bookshop. Isn’t that name misleading? Will people think that I am an actual brick and mortar bookshop? Here I was thinking I was so clever, with A for Adah!
And then I decided to join some blog groups to get my blog out there, except instead of making me feel excited, it made me feel even more insecure about my own blog and the things I was writing/posting. Doubt, insecurity… and now I’m draggin’ my feet.
I am trying to overcome this hump today by drafting my introductory letter for my family and friends, announcing my business. Of course, sitting at Starbucks and sipping my chai is helping some too! More to come….
In the past few weeks I have learned a lot about being a Barefoot Books Ambasador. I also still have a lot to learn.
I am learning that online marketing and selling can be tough. Especially since there are so many other Barefoot Book Ambassadors out there! What would set my site apart from others? Selling really is about relationships. As much as I would like to be anonymous, people also want to buy from someone they trust. I will still learn all I can about online marketing, but I need to be mindful that increased clicks may not always translate to sales.
I am also learning that I may have to carry inventory. Especially for book fairs or craft fairs. So I need to consider how much I can/want to invest. And then that leads me to need to learn how to handle pricing, accepting different forms of payments, sales tax and business licensing.
I am also learning that shipping costs can be a deterrent for online customers. Which means that I probably can’t rely only on online sales. Or I have to be proactive and offer discounts or incentives for shopping online….
I love all the things that I am learning and considering as I set up my business. I finally ordered my business cards, got some marketing materials and made my first book order! For now, I will also keep pondering about the best way for me to market my business…
Yesterday, I volunteered in my son’s kindergarten class. It was a usual time of helping with desk work while Mrs. Z took small groups out to do some reading. The kids were busy, but not necessarily always on their work and I spent much of the time shushing them or reminding them to get to their papers. However, amazingly, they all finished quickly and there was some down time while we waited for Mrs. Z to come back. I loved how each table had some beautiful winter books on the table and the boys and girls knew to reach for the books and read (or look through the pictures) while they waited. In the end, I asked Mrs. Z if I could read them a story and the next thing I knew, I had 4 kids handing me books, begging to have them read. The busyness of kids shuffling around, getting books, fidgeting and talking about their papers quickly died down, when they sat on the carpet for me to read to them. I loved looking into their wide eyes as I started to read a silly story about a sneezing snowman. I loved it even more when they shouted together: “make me brand new”, a phrase used often in the book. I also read a classic folk tale book called The Mitten and the kids started getting excited and clamoured over each other to see what animal was going to be stuffed into the mitten next!
The story time yesterday and my story times with my own kids makes me realize all the more how binding and unifying stories can be – that everyone, no matter if they were banging on the table one minute and jumping around the next, can settle in together and be drawn in by a really good story. I love the calmness and bright eyed engagement of the kids as they wonder what is going to happen next! I hope that through my Barefoot Books business, I can do more and more story times!
(drum roll, please)
Come and visit!