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Inside: Find out how the new 2018 Etsy changes are likely to affect your shop and what you should do about it.
So when Etsy announced the new 2018 changes it felt like everybody and their mother started rushing towards Facebook groups to discuss how this very dramatic change can be the Apocalypse itself.
A lot of gossip, lots of rumours and anxiety was going on. It felt like checking out for news about Brexit, really.
Now, having an Etsy shop myself and experiencing this first hand I don’t feel that anything dramatic actually happened to my income, after all, this is what it all boils down to. So, no I didn’t notice a decrease in the number of views or sale and can still make a full-time income from my shop. Furthermore, my shop keeps growing and I noticed more activity in terms of favourites.
With every new change, Etsy is trying to get better and better every time. A lot of people might find that this platform is not right for them anymore as some of the changes like taking a percentage from the shipping fee created a lot of anger and resentment in the community.
So what do these changes really mean for us, the sellers?
Do we need to make some adjustments to be up to date?
Yes, but take your time…
For my shop, I made one and only one change which I’m still testing it out to see if it’s worthy. ( more about it below )
Please don’t just go in and turn your shop upside down or start to panic that you’ve got a bazillion of listings that need to be modified. Find at the end of the post a checklist that you can go through and make sure you’re all up to date.
So one of the biggest change that happened in 2018 is the:
Content specific ranking (CSR)
What does it mean?
Well CSR helps the shoppers find relevant listings that Etsy believes they are going to like based on their previous purchases or their habits across the platform. So no two people will be able to see the same everytime they type in a search.
Because of the artificial intelligence that Etsy acquired it is possible now to tailor what the buyers see.
That also means that the “clumping” is back. Having multiple items from the same shop showing on the same page it is again possible. For you, it means that it’s best to use a variety of keywords and you don’t have to repeat the same ones in all your listings. Best to diversity to increase your chances to get found more frequently in searches.
Recency is still there but probably is not going to be as important as it used to. Before, if your SEO was on point, renewing your listing would give them that bump and push it in front of more eyes.
In my experience, after the changes, I don’t see a big impact anymore and I definitely don’t rely on this as a marketing strategy.
Titles, Tags, Categories, Attributes
This is something that still stands strong and should be a priority in your SEO strategy. Etsy says:
When a customer enters a search query on Etsy, we look at the titles, tags, categories and attributes you’ve added to find matching keywords. Using all 13 tags, adding variety to your tags, adding all the relevant attribute options, and categorising your items as specifically as you may all help increase the chance that your listings will match with a query.
This is something that’s been the same for quite some time. About 1-2 times a year I like to go through all the listing and check it with Marmalead and make sure everything is looking good or swap some keywords for more seasonal ones.
Etsy gives you 140 characters for your titles but now, they don’t want you necessarily you to use all the characters. Titles should describe the item effectively and be easy to read. Repeating a keyword in your title won’t increase your item’s visibility anymore. Instead of saying “A5 planner inserts, Budget Planner insert just say “A5 Budget planner inserts”.
Going on holiday will hurt your ranking and will take some time until your views are back the same way as before you set it on vacation mode.
A better solution would be to increase your processing time and add a short note that the items will be dispatched promptly on a specific date so the customers know when to expect them.
This is still very much a thing and to get in front of more eyeballs you need to think like a buyer. The first 40 characters of your listing’s title are the most important. Creating a mixture of focus keyword that describes your item 110% with a more general keyword is the sweet spot.
For example, focus keywords would be:
- Ice cream baby rattle
- Gemini star sign necklace
- Solid oak personalised bookend
And a general keyword:
- Gifts for her
- Baby shower gift
- Shelf decoration
- A4 prints
Use an SEO tool like Marmalead or Etsy Rank to check exactly which words to use and don’t pull them out of a hat.
Customer experience score
Now, your customer reviews will impact your search. Etsy is becoming picky about what shops are recommending to the buyers to make sure they’re getting a good experience with their online shopping. So getting great reviews can improve your score rating while the recent open cases and different infringements can hurt it.
This is another thing that created a lot of discussions. Etsy started to charge 5% fee from the shipping cost encouraging you to ship your items free. Now we know that shipping isn’t free for anybody but it started to prioritise in the search results the shops that do that. Amazon brought the trend with fast and free and now people have different expectations from what they used to.
Etsy does mention that you could include the shipping price into the total of the item but that’s not always an option for many shops. If you sell something big and fragile it’s unrealistic to include the price of the shipping on top on the item itself as you’ll repel the customers before they even click through to see more.
There’s no one size fits all.
In my shop, I started doing free shipping and I haven’t seen any massive change in the number of sales I get but I know some shops have noticed a difference. You can always give it a go for a couple of months and see if it’s right for your shop and if not you can always go back. That’s the best way to test this out.
And now, for the one and only the most important pieces of the puzzle to get found on Etsy that is not a new thing by far, but is what made the biggest difference for my shop is…
List more items
There are over 50 million items on Etsy. The chances to get found when you have 16 items in your shop? Minuscule.
Just adding more listings is one of the most effective strategy to grow your shop. Now, don’t expect an instant boost everytime you add an item. For the Etsy bots to find your item can take any time between 4-6 weeks but once it’s picked up and start getting some sales you will see a boost in your views and favourites which can result in more sales. To carry on that cycle make adding items to your shop regularly a priority.
The minimum number of items any shop should have is no less than 50 before expecting some significant activity.
I remember when I decided to get serious about Etsy I committed that by the end of next month to have 50 items in my shop and my revenue went from 0 to $499 straightaway.
By adding more items in your shop your exposure will increase, you’ll get more clicks and Etsy will start to see some activity and will send traffic your way. But you need to put in the time and effort before you see the results.
So moving forward:
- Titles and tags still need to match
- Your best/focus keywords at the beginning of the titles
- Attributes that describe your item 110%
- Polish your about me page
- Don’t fiddle with your announcement section but add SEO in
- If you’re going for holidays increase the dispatch time rather than setting your shop on holiday mode
- Make sure your customers are happy, more positive reviews more chachings
- Check if it’s worth decreasing your shipping prices and including it in the price of the item
- List more items to increase your exposure
Do you have any further tips that helped you keep up with the new 2018 changes? Share them in the comments below so we can all learn from each other.
We don’t have a
Keep on reading until the end of the post for a bonus tip.
Let’s ask ourselves this. Why did we start Etsy?
For many of us was the time flexibility around the kids, a creative outlet that can bring us some side money. You see for most of us Etsy is a way to create some money from our passions. But soon after you start you realise that it takes a lot more time and effort to get it off the ground and your lovely items aren’t getting in front of many eyes.
So you start to question maybe your product is not good enough otherwise why people wouldn’t buy. I know I did. I thought maybe the style is not right for this market, maybe people love more neutrals and was trying to fit in too many categories slowly stripping it off any personality and corkiness that my items initially have. You see you can’t appeal to everybody. You just need to find your people. Those people who fall in love for your products and can’t wait for you to upload another item to snag it right away. Those people who enjoy your products because it helps them solve that small problem that might have. Either making their baby look cute for the christening day with a lovely outfit or finding a great gift to offer to that somebody special in their life.
Once I realised that I had a massive weight off my shoulders, and I could get to work in the right direction rather than frantically worry about everything and making useless changes that weren’t bringing me any results.
I remember that month. Was the month when my shop went from making $0 to $440.73 (£344) and five months later I was making over $6900 (£5400). That was last year. Since then my shop only continued to grow in 2018. So I finished 2018 with a revenue of just over $20.000 that was generated between the months of July to December and today I’ll teach you all the methods I’ve been using to make my shop take off and make it worth my time almost overnight.
1. Know who your buyer is
You hear it everywhere, who is your target audience but can’t emphasise enough about the importance of this crucial step because the reality your products can’t appeal to everybody and that’s a great thing! You need to ask yourself:
- Who will buy my products?
- What problem can my product solve for them?
- Can it fill up a need that they might have?
When you try to answer these questions I want you to think about specific needs. Yes, your product might not end poverty in Africa but for sure can put a smile on somebody’s face when that person received it as the 30th-anniversary gift and is everything they wanted for that special moment in their life. Handmade with care with unique features that no high street product can compete with.
2. Your shop profile matters
You’ll want to get in there and populate the heck out of this place with keywords. This will help your shop become more visible on Etsy as well as on Google’s search. Long tail keywords that describe your item 100% should be used in a natural conversational way in your:
- Shop title. This is a way of telling Google and Etsy what your shop is all about. When you decide on this title you must include your focus keyword here as well as any additional keywords for the remaining of the character space left. I used “A5 planner inserts” ( my focus keyword) and “personal planner refills” because that’s the only two things that I sell in my shop. Very clear, very specific.
- Shop announcement – Contrary to popular believe this is one place that you shouldn’t keep tweaking. The keywords that you use in the shop announcement must include again your focus keyword and an additional short description that is relevant to your items. This place is also great for adding your social media handles.
- Shop sections – Make it easy for people to find you items and navigate through your shop. Tell them exactly what you are selling by using longtail keywords that describe your products perfectly in a specific way.
3. Name your items profitable keywords
One of my problem with the low sales was simply because of the low number of views and that was consequently because people weren’t searching for the words that I named my products. Once I realised that I could get to work.
Allow me to introduce you to Marmalead. This Etsy SEO tool was a total game changer for me. I could find out what keywords people type when searching for an item and use those exact one rather than keep throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping something will stick.
Start by typing in Marmalead’s search the very basic keyword that describes your item 100%. Marmalead will generate a report showing the engagement over time, the number of searches that were made for that word and your competition. It will also show you the different tags that are relevant to that word. This is the best and most efficient way to search for the right keywords for your products and get in front of more eyeballs.
4. Your product description matters.
I see a lot of shops not taking enough advantage of this section which can be key to sealing a deal. Let’s say that I’m looking for some baby blankets. I make a quick search and I find something that I like so I click on it. I scroll through the pictures and I’m just not convinced about the fabric, to me, it looks a bit scratchy so I check out the description and there’s nothing that can assure me that will be soft on my baby’s skins so I go back to my search.
The description box in an opportunity to tell a story about your product and make it relatable to your customer. It is the place to show all the characteristics and the benefits that can offer. Talk about the materials that you used and where you sourced them from if relevant, tell us about the way it’s made, basically help your customer imagine using it and how it will fit with their lifestyle making sure you answer any potential buyer’s questions as possible.
5. Add related products
This goes hand in hand with your product description. If you have any relevant products that your buyer might be interested, make sure you add them in the item’s description. To prevent looking spammy and desperate just add 2-3 items. Because an Etsy link will be clickable this will encourage the buyer to check further some more of your listings and keep them for longer in your shop.
6. I provided a great customer service
I noticed that a lot of the questions that I was receiving were from people who were not sure about certain things related to a product. Thye needed reassurance somehow and they were with the mouse hovering over buy it now button.
Most of the questions that I was getting were related with:
- the size and fit of the item
- unsure about what will work best for them
- shipping time
I took every bit of advantage of this opportunity and to answer these questions quickly, professionally and friendly which lead to a purchase almost straight away, positive feedbacks and repeat purchases.
I know that some people can ask beyond silly questions or have certain expectations about the item that are unrealistic and the first instinct is to become defensive and take things personally.
One great example would be one of my recent conversation with a customer being extremely disappointed and leaving me a 1-star review expressing their discuss with the fact that she paid $5.40 including the international shipping (must highlight this) and all she received were planner inserts. Because she didn’t read the 3 places where is mentioned that the binder is for display purposes or the 4 places in the title that clearly mention planner refill only she expected a full leather Filofax Binder currently priced at $60 with the inserts, of course.
So please please, if you sell baby headbands and it happens to show a picture with a baby wearing them make sure you mention in the description that the baby is not included with this purchase to avoid further disappointments. Just saying…
Now I left the last BONUS tip for the last because is that special and require a section of their own. This step I can confidently say that it put my shop on the map, you don’t wanna miss this out.
7. Use better photography.
Yes! Really. If you have a good quality camera on your smartphone you might be able to get away with that but since the images are the first impression and there’s no other way people can check out your product this step should be a top priority. I started taking photos with my iPhone but I realised that the big money are in the photography and once I started taking myself seriously I invested in a camera and in photo editing course that gave me the confidence to move further with my shop.
Here is an image from one of my listings before.
The reality is if you want to make money you need to invest money. Either in your shills or in tools to help you get the professional look that other shop have and are your direct competitors. Your products might even be better but if you don’t make that obvious you tank the sale.
Adobe Lightroom is a must have tool for me as it saves me hours on editing. The course that taught me everything I know about it The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Lightroom. No bulk of fluff, just action pack with great results.
Here is an image that i shot with my Canon and had it adjusted in Lightroom.
Investing money or just time in your shop is a detrimental point in advancing your career. There isn’t just one magic change that you’ll have to make to generate a full-time income from your shop but a multitude of one right step after another after another checking out constantly on how it performs.
Implementing at least some of the strategies discussed in this post will get you closer to creating a strong brand and an identity to your shop because after all you guys we work hard on it and we deserve some recognition to boost our confidence that yes! This is working and is going somewhere.
You are ambitious, you want to see results, and you crazy believe in your product. You might be three months or 14 month in and the sales are slow. So you start tweaking here, tweaking there, you don’t really know if maybe your shipping is too high, the dispatch time is too long, your photos too dark?
These are things that everyone who is starting an Esty shop goes through. It’s the doubt.
- How shall I sell these things?
- Am I doing the right moves here?
- Is this even worth my time?
And so the doubt starts creeping in.
You might have fallen in love with Etsy because of the opportunity to sell your crafts and do all day what you love most, but when it’s about marketing it, those cha chings aren’t there.
Marketing, unless you have a system in place that you can rinse and repeat over and over again you would be doing more work than on a 9-5 job.
To see any passive growth in your shop you need to be on Pinterest.
For months I based my entire shop’s faith at the mercy of Etsy algorithm. Trying to keep up with the changes, adjusting it to be more relevant and continuously testing new tricks that I read in Facebook groups.
(Btw tweaking continuously your SEO is actually one of the worst things you could do for your shop.)
You can have the most well-researched SEO for your Etsy shop and still see a minimum amount of orders.
For me, one of the game changers was making my Etsy shop more Pinterest friendly. There is something special about the passivity of it, about the initial investment of your time to learn the platform and to schedule your pins and once they’re out there, Pinterest will take care of you by bringing consistent traffic to your shop. When somebody pins your images their followers are able to see it and repin it at their turn. This way it keeps going and going.
Once you create a pin and send it out, it’s out there. This is free marketing for your business and if you are not already doing it, you are leaving money on the table.
93 per cent of Pinners use Pinterest to plan purchases. They might not be in the market for it but then they stumble on your pin and get inspired.
I tried to be on all the social media. They say you have to be everywhere but I quickly realised that will only dilute the time and the effort that I can put into each platform and will only result in being mediocre in all. For my type of content, I found Pinterest the most efficient, quickly followed by Instagram.
So I made a plan. A plan that could help you too to get refocused and bring your best content in front of more eyes and see your shop gaining traction.
Let me show you how.
How to create pins for your Etsy listings
I will try to keep this simple. We will divide this by
- size matter
- templates that make your life easier
- Use stock or shoot your own photos
1. Size matter
One of the first things to keep in mind is the size. By making tall images you take advantage or the real estate that Pinterest has to offer you. Your tall image shouldn’t be longer than 1260px though as it will be cut in the feed and only seen in full after a click through.
817×1200 I found to be the optimal resolution for my images.
The best way to design your images to be optimised for Etsy as well as for Pinterest is to create a template and use it throughout your listings.
When you upload the first image on Etsy the rest of your images will have the same height and width so for example if your first image is tall but the rest are landscape, Etsy will give you a listing that looks like this:
2. Templates that make your life easier
Lifestyle shots go very good on Pinterest. Flat lays work like a charm on Pinterest as well as on Instagram, if there are planner inserts, show them on a desk in a planner, if there are clothes show them being worn and styled, if there are kitchen items, show them being used.
Let’s talk about templates. This is the most efficient way to be consistent with your uploads.
To create my template in Photoshop:
- I set the canvas for 817x1200px and add the banner with the website at the bottom of the page
- I create a collage style template
- Thumbnail gallery image. I decided to have the thumbnail cut on the first part of the image. Etsy will automatically resize and crop your image to 170 x 135px so having the most important part of your image happening within those dimensions is essential to how your image will show up in the search. If you are using my recommended dimensions in the thumbnail action should be at the top of the image in and you can design it accordingly for 817×648
- Adding text. To make it stand out more and I wrote the title at the top of the page as well as the size. This might not be relevant to you but as I sell personal size and A5 I want to make it clear for the customer to spot the size that they need without clicking thought o see the whole title.
You can adjust your thumbnail to determine how your image will look in the search by dragging the image with your mouse
For my shop, I went ahead and optimised all my listings and made them Pinterest friendly. Now if you already have 487 listings with landscape images don’t sweat it, there is still hope.
Choose your top 10 most well-sold items and work on those ones only. If you see an increase in traffic and you might consider that it’s worth working through the rest of the listings do that then. In this case, I wouldn’t recommend adding vertical images if the first one is horizontal but will be pinning an image straight to Pinterest and linking it to your shop.
Make sure you enter a keyword rich description to describe your pins. Make it short and keyword rich in a natural conversational way. Your pin description should clearly describe the benefit that the user will get and should include a call to action such as “click through to find out more”, “visit now”.
3. Use stock or shoot your own photos
If you sell products that can’t benefit a mock-up, then the only way to showcase them would be through your own photography. But if you sell digital items, planner inserts, card design, birthday invitation or similar things that you might find great success with using mockups. Websites like Creative Market and Etsy have some of the best mockups that I’ve seen out there.
Using stock images for digital products is a good idea to give it that extra special look. Look for flat lays that includes your brand colour or make it your own and keep reusing it.
I’m gonna be honest, in the beginning, I was taking a new shot with every single one of my new planners, then was the editing part, the collage, and finally the uploading. What I found specifically with planners is that when I was trying to make the image lighter the inserts were looking too washed out and the text was too faded
So I invested some time ahead and took shots of flat lays with blank pages and I would later add the images in Photoshop.
My own images, with my brand colour and my brand feel.
No expensive stock images.
Clear and bright images that clearly highlight my product and creates a natural lifestyle shot.
Here is an image with the photo that I took inside the binder with plain paper
And here is the pin that I made using that image and added my insert in. I love the way you can see the field clear and everything is readable.
In the situation when you’re not going to revamp your entire shop with new pins, making one pin for each listing and uploading it directly to Pinterest is the second best option.
If you’re not quite sure how to do that here’s a quick guide:
- If you are creating a pin for your products, make sure you save it with a proper name and searchable keywords as this is important for the SEO.
- Now head over Pinterest and click the red + and Create new pin.
This box will open up
Add your pin and the URL of the page you want your pin to direct to.
One thing that I would recommend is when you add the URL rather than directing it to that specific listing add in the address of a section. Individual listings may run out of stock or you might want to replace them and you don’t want people to land in an Etsy 404 page plus this is an opportunity to get your product that otherwise might not search for in front of more eyes.
To do that select a section in your shop and copy that URL.
For example, I know that financial planners are highly searched and these are some of my best selling refills. On the other side” Vitamins and supplements” are not so searched but once people see it, it might be a fit for them.
Add your pin a description. For this part I see people doing keyword stuffing and #. Pinterest is not a big fan of this. Add the relevant keywords for your listing in a conversational and natural way to make your product stand out making it clear for the buyer what’s in it for them. Don’t forget to add a call to action like click to “find out how.. “, “view now”, “click through to find out more”. Hashtags are fine but please no more than one or two. We don’t wanna look desperate and spammy.
Now select the relevant boards that you have and if you joined any group boards that accept Etsy items.
So for this pin, I will be saving it in the Budgeting board as well as my Etsy board which is a board dedicated for all my Etsy items only, and to some of the boards that I joined for Etsy sellers. For items that are not brand new and you are looking to repin, before adding it to the board make sure that the original pin is down a couple of scrolls in the board and it doesn’t look spammy.
And you’re done.
Now it’s time to get to work, this effort will be so worthy. Remember start with few items and built it up as you go along, don’t let this overwhelm you.
I don’t know about you but I love a new start. For me, planners are a way to commit to a change, make new promises to myself and set new goals. I know when I started years ago really getting into planners I was confused by the different sizes and I wasn’t really sure what I would need to fit my lifestyle. There are days when I work from home and want to just keep my planner on my desk so it’s easily accessible, I make notes and can always check the schedule and time where I need to keep something in my bag for making sure I don’t double book myself when making appointments or arranging different activities.
In my Etsy shop, I make planner inserts in 2 different sizes. Personal and A5. If you aren’t a planner obsessed like me this can sometimes be confusing because both these sizes can fit a Filofax, and a Kikki K yet they are so different because these planners come in multiple sizes.
In this post, I will give you a summary of which planners are which sizes. I will focus on my favourite type of planners, ring bound planners. Because of their diversity, durability and how customisable these planners can be, in my opinion, they are perfect if you need more than just a dated planner.
With ring bound planners you have the flexibility to add/remove pages and to choose inserts that are specific to your needs as well as chose a real leather cover or a faux to suit more your budget. Another good thing is that they come in multiple sizes.
When I was choosing my planner I had in mind two things to consider:
- how portable I need this planner to be
- how much space I need to write in
In a nutshell, there are six most common ring round planners sizes out there
A4 & Letter size
A4 (8.27 × 11.69 in) such as Filofax Finsbury
Letter size (8.5×11″) such as Frank convey monarch
A5 is the size that I personally use and love most (5.8 x 8.3 in)
Planners that use A5 inserts:
Ideal for carrying it around with you these inserts are 3.75″ x 6.75
4.72 x 3.18 mm
Once you figured out which planner suits you best it’s time to look for inserts.
Check out below my Etsy shop for:
Inside: If you struggle to get your finances in order this year and create a budget that can help you achieve your long-term goals keep reading as I share with you how to organise everything right in your favourite planner.
I don’t know about you but I hate staying at home at the weekends.
Especially since I started working from home, weekends sound like a break from the routine, getting out of the house, doing something that I don’t get to do during the week and seeing more faces. But with spending all day out and entertaining the kids, it comes also the big price tag.
For months I’ve been lying to myself that we’re just going to have a bite out but Saturday comes and ends up in 2 meals and 1 snack, play area entry, shopping here and there and it kills the budget for the rest of the month. Mind you, Sunday didn’t come yet.
You see for a long time I had to find a better way to do things or else I would never have enough money for my long-term goals if everything is spent on a short time, impulsive purchases.
If you tried to get your finances in order you probably are as I was, confused with what to change to make your money work more for you.
You see as a busy mom of two, blogger, Etsy and eBay shop seller I often find myself confused about my income, expenses, taxes and I never really know how much I actually take home. Considering that each month is different, it only adds more confusion.
Because I know the overwhelming feeling too well I wanted to share with you a system that I found success with. I create a planner refill to guide you step by step on a getting your finances in order and bring more focus on how to manage your money.
Since I shared this bundle with you on Etsy, I was overwhelmed with your response. Thank you so much to all of you who purchased one and it is great to read your kind comments about how this system helped you create a plan to save and pay off your debt.
I know that you don’t need complicated. You need easy. A step by step guide which you can trust that if you follow will be a game changer for you.
I’ve struggled with budgeting for years. Credit cards, spending more than I was earning, buying on impulse, my addiction to cushions that can easily ruin any marriage. I tried, I tried to buy fewer picture frames, even uninstalled temporarily my Pinterest.
It was a mess.
I thought that creating a budget is hard work, having a plan for how much to spend on eating out is a bit stingy, reforming new habits, cooking at home more and finding money free activities for kids was not exciting enough. But I’ll tell you that a car repair that you can’t predict is happening always at the most inconvenient time.
When I made that connection I figured out how to create a budget and after that, it became a game.
It was addictive.
I created this bundle and I’m sharing the exact system that I found success with it.
I figured out the basic routines that make saving money a pleasure, I learned how to calculate my monthly income and know exactly what is coming in. I cut on over $120 recurring expenses that were running without me even giving them any notice, 5 different subscriptions for tv ( Netflix, Now TV, Amazon prime video, Sky and a designated subscription for kids tv? Yes and cable on top of all that. It feels embarrassing when I write it even because the only thing I ever watch is youtube.
Those types of changes allowed me to make room for margin and start paying off the debt, allow me to work from home doing something that I love and share my journey with you.
Many of you have asked me to give you a more in-depth walkthrough of how to get the best of out these inserts and spend less, save more and create a paying your debt system that you can rely on.
Shall we have a look inside?
It starts with..
A pretty cover
This translucent cover has a patterned page underneath and I love the effect it gives. The next page would be for your personal details. Write your name, address, phone and email on the provided line. On the back of the page a cute encouraging quote to keep you motivated.
Monthly income and expenses
First thing in budgeting, determine your monthly income. This might be easy if you have regular income but once you have multiple streams of income and irregular it will be hard to calculate it all in your mind.
If you have multiple sources of income this page is ideal to break them down and have an overview of exactly what money is coming in and the source.
All your income should be calculated as a net income. Every month you need to create a new budget as there are no two months when all your expenses will be the same.
The Fixed and other expense category is for expenses you know are coming but not for bills.
For example this month I know I will be spending money on taking the kids to see a couple of attractions and I already know how much are the tickets. Things like house renovations or purchasing a new appliance can be added to that category. The other expenses are things that you can plan for although you are not sure about the exact amount. This can be approximated so you are not caught totally off guard but can still budget for.
I love this sheet as it gives the perfect overview of the different categories of recurring monthly expenses. It is broken down into 7 most common categories:
Utilizing categories has been recommended by many financial experts because it is so efficient.
The expense inserts are ideal for additional expenses. This pack comes with 12 planners to give you enough for an entire year. At the end of each month draw the line and calculate your balance based on your income and expenses.
You can use this list to make a note of
- meals out
- clothes you purchased
- personal items that were not already budgeted
- guilt free fun money
Because some months there are slight changes to my bills I like to check the boxes as the bills go out. I also tried to have everything on the direct debit and make them all at the beginning of the month rather than be scattered throughout the month. It is easier to keep track.
Sinking funds and Savings
Sinking funds are savings for expenses that you expect but don’t know exactly when. The way it works you save regular amounts each month for costs that you know will occur. This is a pile of money that you’ll collect with a very specific purpose in mind for one thing only like:
- car servicing and insurance
- vet checks
- boiler service
- dental expenses
- home repairs
- kids entertainment during school breaks
Planning in advance for expenses will give you the peace of mind that when they happen you won’t reach for the credit card and accumulate more debt.
The money that you save for the sinking fund should be easily available to you without incurring penalties for withdrawing the money early so keeping them in a short-term savings account or in an envelope at home is ideal.
In the bundle, you’ll also find a savings tracker. You can use this for the long-term savings. It can be used for your emergency fund and the amounts don’t have to be fixed each month but more whatever is left at the end of the month has now a purpose.
To encourage you further inside you’ll also find a money-saving challenge which dares you to save $1.378 in 52 weeks by increasing the amount that you deposit by $1 each week.
Getting out of debt
Getting out of debt is a marathon and a work in progress. These inserts will help you calculate your debt, the interest charges, set monthly payments that fit your overall budget and reduce the balance. We will create a payment plan and have a clear idea of when the due dates are, minimum payments that can be made, the current balance and make clearing your debt a priority.
You can either start by:
- Paying off your smallest debt first
- Paying off debt with the highest interest first
At the back of the bundle, you’ll find 6 planners with to-do lists to make notes along with your journey and observe how far you’ve come.
If you are ready to snag your planner refill, this bundle is available directly in my Etsy shop right here.
Let’s start saving!
If you are anything like me to do lists is an important part of your day. It’s what motivates you, keeps you on track to stay productive and moves you closer to your goals.
In the same time, if a to-do list is not crafted to work for you it can easily become counterproductive and you will feel like giving up.
As most of you know I started my Etsy shop out of my passion for planners and created different refills to last me a lifetime before I even started sharing them with you.
One of my favourite refills has always been a to-do list and I keep a bunch of them at the back of my planner so I can always pull one out as I need it. For me it’s the best and most efficient way to get organised with work-related things, my kid’s schedule, shopping, brainstorming ideas because they are so versatile.
It’s not a big deal to just jot down a quick reminder or a shopping list on the corner of a paper bill and toss that in your purse so when you are next time in the supermarket and dip your hand to search for it you will resort to dumping the 2 years unattended contents of your purse in the middle of an aisle in search for that bit paper whilst your child is adding 47 random items in your shopping basket, you start to wonder… I should have a place to store all these things.
For me, my entire life is planned in my planner. I bring it with me everywhere. It just lives in my bag, and when I’m home, it lives on my desk.
If I pop into the supermarket I can always check what I meal planned for the week and shop for ingredients, if I need to make an appointment I can always see if there is anything planned for that day, because I have everything in one place.
My planner is my safe place to organise my life and it keeps me on track to achieve things that I couldn’t achieve in the past. It keeps me accountable, and for that alone, I love it.
In my planner, I would pull a to-do list next to each relevant category. If I am working on a project for the blog and I have assignment and project planning inserts I would add a to-do list to expand if needed and get into more details. If I am meal planning I could add it as a shopping list near the menu for the week.
And let me tell you this. Our brains love lists. It is something magical when a plan comes together and you nailed it. The sense of accomplishment, of keeping on top of your day.
How to write an efficient to do list
Are your to-do lists looking something like this?
- Blog post ideas
- Defrost lamb for the dinner
- Birthday party
- Website for Emma
- Conference tonight
This is a perfect example of a bad to-do list.
What post ideas, cook what for dinner, birthday party at what time?
Now, amongst all these ambiguous tasks there is one winner.
One of these tasks is actionable and clear and that is…” defrost lamb for the dinner“.
Why? Because it starts with a verb. You can do it in one go and cross it off your list and done!
That’s why when you craft your to-do list make sure you verbalise it.
To trigger you into action you must add a verb to it. Give it a meaning. from blog post ideas -> brainstorm blog post ideas.
If your actionable verb can’t be done in one sitting then it’s best to break it down even further.
So “website for Emma” will become:
- Create an outline of things to implement in the new design
- Email template to Carry for approval
It wouldn’t be enough to just say Build a website, you need to take it further and make it more specific. Split it into a couple more tasks that can be done in one sitting.
So whenever you find yourself writing big projects on your to-do list stop right there. It will overwhelm you and out you off and it will stay on the backlog until the night before.
You first need to identify all those things that are meaningful to you or important for you to get done or because other people are relying on it.
Start writing everything down otherwise you’re brain will keep bombarding you with don’t forget this, don’t forget this at random times.
Have everything in one place
No to-do list will be efficient if it’s scattered somewhere at the bottom of your purse, or in a place you don’t often check. If you don’t already have a planner, grab a notebook and make it a go-to place to keep on top of your day. You need to leave space in your brain for creativity. A lot of the people are walking around constantly thinking about all the things they’re trying to manage and remind themselves about all the things are still left to do.
There is no reason to keep thinking about a thing twice. When you do your brainstorming session that’s the time you need to allow for planning and allocating task, after that it’s all about picking up one task at a time and getting it done. Mental hurry is not beneficial to anybody and it can cloud your judgment.
Make it simple, make it specific
If you have a long-term goal that you know it’s will take time, but you need to make incremental steps towards it start with those. You have to clarify it. If you find yourself writing things that are not specific and actionable stop right there. Is no point in just making some quick notes and make your day look busy and overwhelming.
Keep it simple and keep it short.
- What exactly is the work you have to do? What does the work involve?
- What’s the outcome?
Identify that and then set the next action. Always think what are you trying to accomplish and write down on your to-do list the exact way you’re going to accomplish it.
So before you start anything, define what the most important work is.
For example, if you need to “film a video for youtube” a better task will be: “Film the simplicity challenge and link to the free pdf”. This task looks more doable now. Try breaking the task further into doable actions and allocate it a time and a date for when that will get done.
I made my to-do list a self-managing system that can do the remembering for me and hold me accountable.
Now, you don’t need to keep thinking about those things and will take the mental juggling out of the picture.
Putting pen to paper and taking a few extra minutes to plan ahead your day but it will put you at ease and lets you complete tasks without wasting time.
Relling on your mind alone will not get you far. Your brain can remember you that you need to do something at 2 o’clock in the morning when it’s virtually impossible to do it or you already missed the deadline. Imagine multiplying that by a hundred and it will be difficult to even focus on a task because you keep getting bombarded with too many ideas.
Make sure you keep your system consistent and you do a review.
When you are happy with your to-do list it is time to relax. When you know what your goal is, what the next action that you need to take you’ll start to experience stress-free productivity.
Now, as a bonus let me list the many different ways I found to do list helpful with.
- shopping list
- Gratitude list
- Bills to pay
- Meal planning
- Personal goals
- Books to read
- Assignments to complete
- Recipes to try
- Financial – expense tracker, bills to pay, debt payments, saving charts, no spend activities,
- Meal planning- shopping list, grocery list, meal ideas, recipe to try
- Work/academic- project planner, assignments, meeting notes, brain dump, personal goals, emails to send, calls to make, appointments to attend.
- Spiritual/religios- bible study, daily gratitude, prayer list, daily affirmations, ways to give back to the world
- Home- house projects to do, gifts to buy, things to fix, errands to run, birthdays, important dates
- Goals- 5-year goals, today’s top three,
- Health and fitness- meditation tracker, fitness workouts, self-care list.
Keep motivated and whenever you are feeling down just look back at your lists and see how much progress you did. There are some days when I feel I didn’t accomplish anything. Just keep going. Once you make a plan, the next step is just to keep going and keep going and never ever quit until you get to where you wanted.